BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
Like the neighborhood that it serves, the volunteer group Friends of Gantry Neighborhood Parks is growing and changing.
Early this month, Friends of Gantry announced that it will expand to form the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy. This new organization’s mission incorporates the needs of residents coming into Hunters Point as it develops, and its goals include preserving the area’s waterfront, green spaces and parks – namely the Hunters Point South Park that opened 2013.
Bill Bylewski, president of Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, said that he hopes the group will “turn our waterfront parks into a spectacular front lawn for the community.”
“The agencies that oversee our parks have limited resources, and if we are to make the most of these neighborhood treasures, we need to make our neighbors aware of how important their contributions are to ensure that these parks remain active and well maintained amenities,” Bylewski said.
An all-volunteer group of residents formed Friends of Gantry in 1998, when Gantry Plaza State Park first opened to the public. Its mission has been to care for and beautify the waterfront park and surrounding neighborhood.
The friends group has organized events and concerts in the park, along with It’s My Park Day events, and has worked alongside the park’s staff to maintain the gardens.
Last Saturday, the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy held an unveiling ceremony, with attendees including Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth), Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) and a representative from the office of Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Sunnyside).
According to Christian Amez, chair of development, fundraising and finance for Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, the expanded group aims to bring the public into their program of action.
“We are inviting all residents and stakeholders of the growing Hunters Point village to have a voting say on what we should bring to the new city park, or improve on at the state park,” Amez said.
The group will hold a meeting on June 11 at 7 p.m. at the City Lights Building, 4-74 48th Ave. Interested parties can keep abreast of the conservancy’s schedule by visiting www.facebook.com/hunterspointparks.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.