2018-07-25 / Front Page

Woodside's Big Bush Park Reopens

By Thomas Cogan

Melinda Katz, borough president of Queens; Jimmy Van Bramer, City Councilmember.Melinda Katz, borough president of Queens; Jimmy Van Bramer, City Councilmember.A year ago, a ceremony in Woodside’s Big Bush Park hailed a renovation that had begun two months earlier and was expected to be completed the following May.  This year, nine days many of the principals reconvened to celebrate completion of the renovation.  Among them at the July 17 event were Borough President Melinda Katz and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.  It was indeed achieved according to schedule two months earlier, in May 2018.  Everything is now finished and children can climb on the new equipment or run through the water sprays while their parents work at their own pace on the new exercise equipment. 

“Playgrounds like this are good for all generations,” Queens Borough Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski proclaimed.

She said also that everyone in attendance was blessed with “a beautiful summer day,” though it was hot and humid (and would turn heavily rainy in the afternoon).  She noted that the year-long Big Bush reconstruction was financed by $1 million from President Katz’s office and $800,000 that Councilman Van Bramer got from the City Council.  The children’s play area and the padded surfaces under their climbing devices, the benches under newly-planted trees:  all were made possible by those two funds, as were the “sensible swings,” and the means of water conservation, Lewandowski said.  She introduced Katz, then Van Bramer. 

The borough president called the park design “truly thoughtful,” for “a truly great borough.”  She added that when her second child was born she determined that as borough president she would bring improvement to all the parks of Queens.  They are crucial for neighborhoods, she said; and while Queens is “a big borough,” it is one full of neighborhoods.

Van Bramer, praised by Lewandowski for his attention to all the parks in his district, said that parks, like the libraries that have always been his concern, should work for the profit of neighborhoods.  As well, children should be safe there.  He then recognized some women inattendance from the Big Six residential towers across 61st Street from the park, thanking them for their interest in it at all times.    

Also attending the event was João Chrisóstomo, who lives on 64th Street at the east end of the park.  He has done a lot of voluntary work in the park in past years and is quite familiar with it.  He observed that the improved park is wonderful and he’s impressed with the pledge by its keepers to look after it constantly.  He advises, however, that the police be asked to make periodic walk-throughs to check the possibility that anyone should try to settle in the park for any length of time.  He said that vagrants and the homeless sometimes leave evidence of their stay, which is upsetting and unfortunate.

Big Bush Park and Little Bush Park (also known as Nathan Weidenbaum Playground), which is located to the south on Laurel Hill Boulevard, were built in the 1950s when construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway reached Woodside and eliminated Bush Street.  Robert Moses looked around, said that this “section of Queens . . . lacked adequate recreational facilities” and decreed that the large and small parks be built.  In addition to the recently reconstructed north end, Big Bush Park has handball courts, two baseball fields (also used for other sports, particularly soccer) and basketball courts.

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