BY JAMES FARRELL
For many in College Point, MacNeil Park is the neighborhood’s crown jewel. On May 13, the Coastal Preservation Network (CPN) is hosting an environmentally themed event to celebrate the waterfront park and, more importantly, encourage its preservation.
CPN, a local environmental non-profit that advocates for MacNeil Park, has hosted its annual Family Earth Fair at the park every year since 2002. The event will feature a wide array of family-oriented events and activities with a special emphasis on taking care of the environment—locally and beyond.
There will be environmentally-friendly giveaways—reusable tote bags, compost bins and reusable water bottles. There is also a volunteer clean-up of the park’s waterfront, leading into a day of activities, such as live music from the Bayside-based band Chicken Head. CPN President and marine biologist James Cervino will host an underwater discovery lab that allows guests to learn about plankton by viewing it under a microscope. There will also be a composting demonstration with the Queens Botanical Garden, kayaking in the East River and more.
Kathryn Cervino, James’ wife and CPN’s vice president, is most excited for the kayaking. She said she hopes that the event will remind College Point residents of the need to advocate for the environment, especially near the waterfront at MacNeil Park.
“Our goal is that they feel like they feel like they have more at stake, that they’re more connected to the water and, therefore, they want to protect it,” she said. “So [we hope to] build their connectedness in the hopes that they’ll protect it further. That’s the whole goal of the kayaking. And, of course, let them have fun.”
For CPN, the past year has highlighted a need for advocacy at the park. In recent months, the group has been in the news, arguing for the long-stalled repair of the park’s seawall and fighting against a proposed storm water outfall pipe that would empty near the park’s kayak launch site and a protected habitat of oysters and sea grasses that CPN has been maintaining for over a decade. That pipe was approved, despite CPN’s concerns, two weeks ago. Additionally, Cervino added, MacNeil Park did not receive enough votes in participatory budgeting to be considered for projects such as a new basketball court.
Cervino said that the event would take on a more pointed tone this year and a greater sense of urgency to have College Point’s voice heard.
“I think, this year, we all come to this event, of course, with excitement about the event because it’s going to be a great day, but also with a real sense of need and fight in us and a community that is more rallied behind a mission than ever before,” she said.
The event is free to attend and will run from noon to 4 p.m. There will also be food from the Mangu Grill and Mamma Luciana’s. Other activities include live animals from the Alley Pond Environmental Center and a robotic fish display from New York University’s robotics Lab.
For more information, visit www.coastalpreservation.org.
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @farrellj329.