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Parks Dept shares plans for first phase of $30 million Astoria Park renovation, CB1 committee supports them

Rendering (Parks Dept.)

March 28, 2017 By Hannah Wulkan

The Parks Department shared its working plans for the first phase of the $30 million renovation to Astoria Park Monday, detailing how it will bring a new track and soccer field to the area by the fall of 2019.

The landscape architect working on the project, Nancy Owens, along with various other Parks team members, shared detailed plans for the first phase of the park revamp with the Community Board 1 Parks Committee Monday night.

Following the presentation, the Committee unanimously voted to send a letter supporting the Phase One plan to the Public Design Commission.

Throughout the first phase of the project, the park will see a total revamp of the southernmost section of the park below the RFK Bridge. It will include a new 8-lane blue running track with a high school regulation size turf soccer field in the middle, added seating, new adult fitness equipment and plantings, as well as work on erosion control and the drainage system.

Owens said that the design focuses heavily on capitalizing the stunning views that can be seen from the park. The department will be adding an overlook by the water during the first phase and aims to make sure that visitors to the park will be able to go to many vantage points to see the views.

The overall budget for the project includes a $30 million allocation from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who designated Astoria Park the Queens “Anchor Park” last year, along with one park in each other borough.

The project will also use funds that had previously been designated for water fountains and erosion control projects in the park, bringing the total budget up to $34.23 million, Owens said.

The first phase of the project will cost a hefty portion of the overall budget, costing about $13.5 million total, including $750,000 from Borough President Melinda Katz for erosion control and about $150,000 for water fountains that was allocated during the participatory budgeting cycle last year.

Vincent Cirrito, a project manager for the Astoria Park upgrade, explained that the Parks Department chose the southern most section of the park for phase one because it would be fairly quick and easy to update.

Though the huge swath of the park between the bridges is landmarked, the area for phase one is not, meaning that it will not need to go through the Landmarks process for approval.

The area was also simpler to design, because the primary focus was the track area, and the rest of phase one could work from that starting point.

Cirrito estimated that the design process would be done by December and the project would then go out to bid to contractors. He said that the Parks Department is aiming to break ground on phase one by fall 2018, and complete it by fall 2019. The area included in phase one will be closed to the public during construction.

Other plans beyond phase 1 are being discussed although nothing has been nailed down.

However, what is known is that future work will also involve upgrading park infrastructure. This includes fixing the drainage system and protecting the park from erosion.

Owens explained that Astoria Park has “great bones” but is very run down, and will require much more than cosmetic improvement.

Owens noted that an arborist, who assessed the condition of the park, discovered that about 44 trees were dead or dying and would need to be removed.

In addition to the infrastructure improvements, future phases are likely to involve upgrading the playground and nearby comfort station, as well as adding lighting, plantings, and general upgrades throughout the park.  There are also plans to add canopy trees for shade, as well as smaller plants and shrubs.

Cirrito said that the future phases have not yet been mapped out, but will go through the same community planning process as the first phase did.

Though the park will go through many upgrades, Owens said that the goal was simply to enhance the existing park so that it still looks like the “iconic Astoria Park.” She said she focused on using a cohesive theme in materials throughout the park, and chose benches and other materials that matched the historical feel of the park.

“I thought the design was really thoughtful and reflected how beloved the park is,” said Astoria Park Alliance director Martha Lopez Gilpin, who attended the presentation last night. “I thought it integrated the comments from the community very respectfully, which I really appreciated.”

Lopez Gilpin added that she was excited to see what the future phases would look like, and that she was keeping an open mind, but her priorities included park infrastructure and the playground and comfort station upgrades.

“I was struck by just how much the park really needs and deserves this attention to its infrastructure just so it can be preserved, which I normally wouldn’t think about” Lopez Gilpin said. “It’s almost like it’s getting this badly needed infusion just in time to preserve it and take care of this beautiful iconic place that is so important to the community.”

 

 

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18 Comments

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evan coffey

What about putting some lighting on the tennis courts? It wouldn’t be nearly as expensive as the soccer field, and the courts are always packed. I’m sure more people would play tennis throughout the summer nights..

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Dolores Valdez

All they are doing is improving or renovating what currently exists there. The track field will be newer and the soccer field will be newer, so why is it a “process” The footprint isnt changing. Improving the water fountains, yup, need that… and the bathroom, well we all know the bathroom is in dire need of upgrading. Maybe even making it bigger.

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Anonymous

Knocking the park down defeats the purpose for people to exercise there. Then, you’ll have more slum lords there faster than what they had back in the 90’s via Terrace Projects. Who’d want that happening again?

Also, the process made for this park is way beyond the budget for our town, anyway. Last time I checked, this was just to gentrify/attract people out of our small towns and bring in the yuppie division from the city. Next thing you’ll know, there’s no room for runners/joggers/calisthenics outside the track and field. Finally, you’ll have skaters protesting that their small skate park is in jeopardy. In the long run, this is what’ll happen when the city ignores our pleas.

So, who’s ready to ask for them to make a recreational center there with fitness equipment and a mini gym that’ll break even Planet Fitness’s career? Anybody?

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Spiro Elef

In the 1st place there was a grass field that got used for soccer years ago and it was a disaster ,what happened-it created a dirt dust zone blowing around the track and looked terrible. So they took it out and now its nice again, so now its got to have a soccer field again? This is AMERICA -why not a baseball field or field for foot ball playing? Hey why aren’t there no Handball courts in Astoria park either like it once had? No we have these Globalists sell outs catering to the immigrants and their soccer needs ! Screw that -Screw these politicians that are all about immigrants needs and bye bye US of A culture ! Top that with what 30 million plus price tag?For one Park that is about the trees and grass-a bit of escape from the concrete Jungle for most. This price tag and projects its earmarked for, smells of crony paybacks for election donations from insider construction firms. Look at the stupid things they have already done, lanes in the pathways-walk this way not that way, mixed use lanes and all these little sign sign everywhere’s a sign bull crap. Next come the Fine for this fine for that signs and park police driving around on their golf carts giving fines! Whats next this grass ok to step on ,this section not ? How the story ends?

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Anonymous

I’m American I play soccer. You are way off base complaining that it’s a soccer field over baseball/football. Soccer is growing sport and to be fair Astoria is a 1st gen/ 2nd gen neighborhood with lots of roots to Europe so why exactly should a baseball field go there over a soccer field when it doesn’t fit the community?

All that said I don’t really want any sports field in the park. It all gets snapped up by these yuppie sports leagues that have $$$ in their eyes and local people never get to use the field cause these legues have all the permits on lock.

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Anonymous

You want a baseball and football field. Use the ICYP feild.. But you must have grown up in Astoria…
The pool and the bathrooms need to be updated.

The did a mess with the
Strip by making it a one way. Bikers and runners had the WHOLE park to ride on. Waste of money…. This is was a residential park. Not Manhattan central park…

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Anonymous

“The Process” was bXllshXt … the soccer field at the “meetings to have input” was a sham .. I was there for all the meetings and the decision was made not BY THE PEOPLE of Astoria (no vote like #PBNYC). NOT upgrading existing infrastructure such as the bathrooms & especially the bathrooms that were draining in the river is crazy; NOT building up the shoreline from CLIMATE CHANGE & creatcreating access to the river

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Steven

This is so frustrating. They hold a meeting for the community residents to attend in February and allow everyone to provide their feedback and the majority in attendance said they DID NOT want th soccer field and that the track did not need re-doing. The track is almost literally the only thing in great shape in the park. Why is there no focus on the restrooms, the pool was not even mentioned? Community members were promised a follow up meeting in March as to the discussions in February – and that didn’t happen. Don’t ask for your communities in-put if you won’t listen and take into consideration their thoughts. The track is fine and nobody wants the soccer field.

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Anonymous

I was at the February meeting so when you say no one wants it, you mean you and your family/friends don’t want it. Astoria is a big place, remember?

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Bob P

They are fixing that side of the park because of the changes in the zoning law of the buildings that stand across from the park. Bigger and taller buildings will be standing there in the future!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Donna C

Spending $13.5m of the total $30m to completely beef up this section of the park….. but ignoring the only bathrooms there? Silly.

And where is the waterfront access?

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JenLastoria

Unfortunately, it’s all about the soccer field. That will be a disaster for runners, and possibly dangerous. There are other soccer fields in the area already, and ASC is planning to build one too. What a waste. Should focus on the decaying infrastructure and maintenance, which is the long term problem: decent clean & safe restrooms, water fountains, drainage, pathways, etc.

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Donna C

The ASC is a private venture. Not equivalent comparison by any stretch of the imagination.

This does not need to be a binary choice: for or against the soccer field. You can reasonably construct the new soccer field and still address all the many other needs of the park.

But to create these big attractions for people to come to (both the revamped track, and the new field inside it) don’t you logically have to work on bathrooms all those people will use?

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