Community Considers Future For Green Space

BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
Staff Writer

The future design of Jackson Heights’ newest green space was brainstormed by 100 community members and Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) on Oct. 26 at IS 145.

The visioning session is the first of three meetings where the public weighed in their opinions about the intended use of the 78th Street Pedestrian Plaza, Rory Staunton Field and Travers Park.

In addition to the 78th Street Pedestrian Plaza, the City bought the field adjacent to the Jackson Heights Garden School earlier this year, and named it in memory of a student, Rory Staunton.

The hope is to create a design based on the residents’ ideas to make use of the $5 million budget allotted to the renovations of the three spaces. The end goal is to tie the three spaces together to give the appearance of one large park instead of three smaller spaces.

“My district is in desperate need of green space,” Dromm said. “Out of the 51 City Council districts, mine ranks second to last with the least amount of parkland in the City.”

By adding the land near 78th Street, Dromm said it doubles the size of the existing park.

“We deserve outdoor areas for recreation and relaxation,’’ he added.

Dudley Stewart, president of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance, said the biggest take away from the visioning meeting was the community’s desire for more green space, which includes trees, meandering paths and grass.

Attendees spoke about adding more seating in the Plaza and some groups suggested terraced steps leading to Rory Staunton Field, so it could double as a performance space.The Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said the Dept. of Parks and Recreation will take into account what the local stakeholders say during the design sessions because it will help make their final presentation.

“With the feedback that our designers gathered at this meeting, we will be better able to devise a cohesive plan for these two parks and integrate these spaces with the Dept. of Transportation’s play street,” Lewandowski said.

Dromm said construction at the park is expected to begin in 2015.

Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, tsakhuja@queenstribune.com, or @Tsakhuja13.