Sept. 7, 2018 By Tara Law
Construction for the $34 million overhaul of Astoria Park is expected to begin this fall.
The park is being revamped as part of a three-stage project funded by the mayor’s Anchor Park project, through which the city is implementing major upgrades to a large park in each borough.
NYC Parks Queens Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski provided an update about the Astoria Park initiative at a meeting with the Astoria Park Alliance on Wednesday.
The first stage, which will soon be under construction, will involve a $13.65 million renovation of the track and surrounding area. The second stage will be a $15.75 million makeover and expansion of Charybdis Playground, which is located by the pool. The final stage will involve the expenditure of $4 million to $5 million on landscaping the northern end of the park.
Lewandowski said that construction for the first stage of the Astoria Park will take about 18 months. The phase will focus on the installation of a new track and soccer field, which is located at the southernmost section of the park. The area will be fenced off during the course of construction.
During phase one, the track will be replaced with an eight-lane rubberized track, which will be equipped for track and field events such as shot putt.
The center of the track will be repurposed for soccer, and will be covered with synthetic turf and equipped with new bleachers. The soccer field will be primarily contracted out to youth soccer teams, Lewandowski said.
A misting station where athletes can cool down under soft spray will be installed near the track, Lewandowski said. An adult fitness equipment area will also be installed nearby.
Along the shore near the track, an “overlook” area will give park-goers a better view of the river, Lewandowski said.
The bathrooms and water fountains near the track will also be completely renovated, and the roof of the building where they are located will be repaired. The bathrooms will also be made ADA compliant.
Although many of the meeting attendees reacted positively to the plans, one resident, Doros Evangelides, expressed concern that the addition of the soccer field will make the park area too crowded.
Lewandowski responded that track and field combinations “work successfully” at other parks across the city. She noted that at Juniper Park, which is near her Middle Village home, the combined track, soccer and football field is not disruptive.
“There’s a coexistence that goes on there,” Lewandowski said. “Even when the games happen for football or soccer, you’re not so overwhelmed that you’re not able to use the facilities together.”
Construction for the second phase of the Anchor Park project is expected to begin in 2019. The phase is currently in the early stages of procurement, which typically lasts nine months.
The second phase will focus on expanding Charybdis Playground, which is located to the north of the pool. Construction is set to begin sometime next year, although Lewandowski said that she is not certain how long the phase will last.
Although the details of the phase are still being finalized, Lewandowski assured the Astoria Parks Alliance that the comfort station at the playground, which has been closed since 2015, will be fully renovated as part of phase two.
Lewandowski said that the bathrooms were being incorporated into phase two, rather than a separate project, “to avoid digging up that area twice.”
During this phase, the playground will be expanded to incorporate part of the pool where there are currently spray showers, Lewandowski said. New play equipment, picnic tables and gaming tables will be installed at the playground.
Finally, the timeline for third phase of the project has not been finalized yet, said Lewandowski. However, she revealed that the project will focus on landscaping at the northern section of the park.
Meanwhile, construction work at the the old diving pool, which is separate from the Anchor Parks initiative, is expected to be completed in the fall of 2019. The diving pool is being decked in to create an event plaza. One of the diving boards will be preserved as a reminder of the pool’s history, and the surrounding bleachers will be kept for audiences viewing events.