2018-04-11 / Features

Future Of Flushing Meadows Discussed

BY THOMAS COGAN

The Flushing Meadows Corona Park Conservancy held its first annual State of the Park review. Conservancy President Jean Silva welcomed those in attendance, recognizing many and saying confidently that, “All of you love this park.”

There’s a lot of park to love, nearly 900 acres of it. The past year was a great one for it and its devotees, according to Janice Melnick, the conservancy’s executive director, who showed slides of the Earth Day 2017 celebration and other events in the park. Others delivered reports about the US Tennis Association, the zoo, the theater and the restored New York State Pavilion. The prime emphasis, though, was on the park as a place for the public and what must be done to maintain its attractiveness.

Council Member Rory Lancman was present at the April 4 meeting, and praised his audience as “stakeholders.” His district includes most of the south part of the park and altogether covers about 40 percent of it.

Melnick went over Earth Day and other significant events in the park last year and emphasized the importance of volunteer workers to the park’s welfare. Sixty of those volunteers serve as docents for such educational programs as the one that covers World’s Fair history. She also promoted the FMCP’s Environmental Stewardship program. Environmental stewards care for the park’s natural areas by weeding and planting, and repair and maintenance of everything from trees to paving stones.

A few years ago it was wisely decided to start repairing those deteriorating icons of the 1964- 65 World’s Fair, the New York State Pavilion and the Tent of Tomorrow. Melnick said a “mist pool,” currently being built near the Unisphere, would be a safe attraction for kids to cool off in.

The next speaker was Kathleen Casino, manager of community relations and events for the United States Tennis Association. She mentioned school tours, from the elementary to high school level, that take students through the many parts of the tennis complex. She described the extensive rebuilding of Louis Armstrong Stadium, which will now have a retractable roof and seating capacity of more than 14,000. Queens Day this year will be on Wednesday, August 22, three days before the USTA Open begins.

Tom Hurtibise of the Queens Zoo said the zoo draws about 350,000 annually, adding that it is every bit the attraction the better-publicized Prospect Park Zoo is. He said the annual sheep-shearing event will soon occur at the zoo, in the first week of May. Right now, he’s calling for summer volunteers, saying his job pool is students between 14 and 20, from which he’ll select 50. He called the experience is good preparation for the job world.

Susan Lacerte of the Queens Botanical Garden, just to the east of the park, said the garden attracts about 225,000 visitors annually, and is a great place for a wedding. Then she brought up the topic of composting. QBG Farm & Compost is open Wednesdays and the last Saturday of each month, this year from Wednesday, May 2 through Halloween, October 31. Volunteers are wanted, they must be at least 16, and must register at farmcompostvolunteering2018.eventbrite.com.

Willy Mosquera of the Queens Theatre said that its lobby has been redesigned and on Saturday, April 28, the Latin Dance Fiesta will be presented, featuring dance of both Spain and Latin America.

There are many free events to come in 2018, but the one nearest at hand is the City Nature Challenge from Friday, April 27 to Monday, April 30.

QBG also announced various activities such as Discovery Walks around Meadow Lake and Urban Park Rangers Tours.

More information is available at allianceforfmcp.org/newevents or email Meghan.Leverock@parks.nyc.gov.

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