Newsday from New York, New York on August 9, 1988 · 24
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Newsday from New York, New York · 24

New York, New York
Issue Date:
Tuesday, August 9, 1988
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lY, TUESDAY, AUGUST 9. 1908 Queens Park Lurches Forward FLUSHING from Page 9 its ringed with expressways, making access difficult. It doesnt really serve adjacent communities the way most parks do the easiest way to get inride this park is by subway. It makes it a tough nut, a difficult park to plan, he said TERN CREDITS QUEENS Borough President Claire Shul-man with his agencys new push on the park. While her predecessor, Donald Manes, envisioned the park as the new Meaoowlands, a sports-recreation-entertainment mecca with a Grand Prix race course, a football stadium and all the concrete that money could buy, Shulman likes the park the way it is, or the way it could be. She told Stern renovating Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was one of herprioritiee. Meanwhile, the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Corp. that Manes initiated with Donald Trump and farmer Gov. Hugh Carey on the board to promote nis ideas has become a planning and fund-raising operation with new visions to complement the citys planning for the park. I think even though its the second most trafficked park in the city, the city really did not spend too much money or time in rehabbing or fixing Flushing Meadow park, said Shulman. That whole attitude has changed. We should be seeing some big differences in the park. Not everything runs smoothly, however. New signs to go up later this summer would have been ready sooner except Shulman and Stern couldnt agyee on a design. Stern wanted his ubiquitous park motif of a leaf, and Shulman wanted a big Unisphere, symbol of the 1964 World's Fair. They compromised. Henry seems to be fixated on leaves, Shulman said. In the interest of moving this along, I settled for a little larger leaf than I would have liked and a Unisphere a little smaller than I would like. She laughs over internal Parks Department competition to see who can put up the most leaves. Theres a leaf sign affixed to the top of the tallest New York State Pavilion tower, the highest leaf in the city, chuckled William Cook, parka commissioner for Queens County. Cook says that he would like to see the park made more hospitable for families and family activities. Its flat and been taken over by the jocks, he said recently. Its all men, and anytime you have that you have the usual problems, referring to the use of alcohol and swearing that might be uncomfort--Mn to families. With 8 million visitors annually, it's the second most heavily used park in the system after Central Park. In addition, Rhe Stadium attracts 3 million visitors annually and the National Tennis Center almost a half million more, both of which are at the north end of the park. Also there are a marina, the Hall of Science and the Queens Museums, a botanical garden, soccer and softball fields, a zoo and petting zoo (both now dosed for renovation) and two lakes. The park also plays host to , huge ethnic festivals (hr Queens vi-I brant and growing immigrant communities, among them Koreans, Colombians and Ecuadorians. But it has few bathrooms or snackbars, a confusing internal road system and entrances that are inconspicuous. to produce a new concept plan for Flushing Meadows for distribution by October. While the task force and the corporation are working with the Parks Family strolls by the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows park on Monday afternoon. The renovations will deal with some of these and a range of other design issues. But basically Flushing Meadows park will remain Flushing Meadows park, and thats just fine with the folks who flock there now. On a recent hot summer weekday evening; the summer rains had turned the trees lush and the grass green. The soccer players most of them from Latin American countries leaped in displays of balletic prowess. Intent bicyclists sped by. Ultimate Frisbee-league players tossed rapid-fire Ftisbees. Families chatted and Were ambled. And though Commissioner Stem might find this park flat, difficult, a tough nut" to plan, those who come here had no such qualms nor a desire for tmngfnrmnt.irm Whats wrong with it? Why does it need relandscaping? said Hal Josephs, a free-lance advertising art director who often rides his bike here. Elat can be appealing, too. Its very quieting, flat People say they like the International flavor here, and indeed most of the people here one night recently wine from elsewhere. Pu. Guatemala. India. Asia. And for them, the parks natures, by their accounts, deeply satisfying despite the eareplitting, conversation-stopping roar of jets taking off from nearby LaGuardia Airport every few minutes. We like it because theres a lot of soccer; we use it because its quiet and natural, the trees, no air pollution, said Willie Paredes, 24, a native of Peru who now lives In Corona. Few me, everythings good, I love this park, said Carlos Del Cid, studying acting since coming to New Yom from Guatemala lVk years ago and who loves the buzz of activity here, the festivals. Some people say its a park like a cemetery, but that's wrong; because this park is very happy. Its the only place in New York City where you can get field space, which is why everyone is here, said Richard Kramer, an Ultimate Frisbee team-member, who toadies tahurimmuniM. tions at Columbia Universitys Graduate School of Business. The reconstruction plan will change some of this: some fields will be into sloping gardens. And while the park boasts the citys largest lake, its boat house is boarded up and derelict, entangled since 1983 in disputes, delays and now litigation with a concessionaire whom the city alleges failed to live up to contractual agreements. No geysers spout from the dry, shabby fountains stretching between the dormant Fountain of the Planets (its pool the diameter of Shea Stadium) to the Unisphere. The Unirohere itself HtwiiMlnii f lmg fountain the city shuts off during festivals to prevent wading. Also, the towers and the worlds largest inlaid map of New York State in the old New York State Pavilion decay like archeological remnants from the 1964 World's Fair. The towers and the pavil-kms jagged crown-like silhouette is the only thing visible in the park to millions of motorists who drive through it on the Grand Central Parkway. But at least now people are thinking about the problems. Arne Abramowitz, appointed as the park's administrator about lVk years ago, sayB that eventually park improvements must deal with the lack of amenities: more bathrooms and snack bars, an internal transportation system, like jit- 1 ( and etter signs. if recon- he said, to relandscape the core area around the Unisphere its into more intimate, interesting spaces and gardens. The crumbling Gertrude Ederie Amphitheater ana pool on Meadow Lake also will be redesigned and rebuilt. Eventually, Abramowitz said, the fountains wiU spray, and he envisions a restaurant overlooking boats on the huge Fountain of the Planets. He said, however, various ideas for using the New York State Pavilion towers have crashed on the high cost of renovation; so far, there are no firm plans for them. He is looking to the next century, he said, when he expects the park to finally live up to its potential. ,5Were a very new park," he said. We look to the next century; well be peaking then. Shnlman's park corporation chairman, Martin (Salient, a lawyer and former member of the dty Planning Commission, said the city dumped things in the park no one wanted elsewhere: a Grand Prix race-track proposal; campers for the Statue of liberty celebration; (join jwmiounirra that had proven troublesome elsewhere. Now, the cify is studying the plerwmwnt af a 40-milHon-pllnn sewage stormwater retention tank under toe park. Our greatest is to develop a vision for toe park so these negative things dont get thrown at it again, Gallent said. A task farce of celebrated architects, artists, planners and landscapers appointed by the corporation was funded word on any planning done for the park. The task force looks at the park as it is, surrounded by highways, heavily used by soccer and softball players, flecked with odd institutions, and tries to make virtues of them. Were not going to negate them were going to give them focus. At the moment, its a little bit of a mess, it needs a lot of editing, said Bernard Tschumi, widely recognized architect recently named dean erf Columbia Universitys School of Architecture and Planning and chairman of the task forces conceptual-plan committee. Its .not going to be possible to pretend the highways aren't there, said Tschumi, who declined to be specific about ton proposal. The interpretation of the park has to accept late 20th-Century conditions ... to accept it's an active park and stress the activities and interest groups who go there. EANWHILE, COOK, THE boroughs parks commissioner, has forced out some concessionaires he found unsatisfac- tory, including the Twnrinw fffiMPMinniiiin and John ZOT-vas, a bigLtime food cart vending owner who was involved in litigation over his Central Park food-cart concession before getting the contract for food carts and toe boat house in the park. Zervas lost much of his food-cart concession in 1986, but retained the boathouse contract, which he obtained in 1983, according to Matt McElrqy, deputy chief of revenue for the Parks Department. The boat house stood empty and boarded up during the five years of disagreements and delays over the scope of his proposal to put in a restaurant and rent boats. This year, the dty finally moved to terminate his boat-house contract, and Zervas is suing the dty. The dty says it wont reopen the boat house miring the litigation. Meanwhile, toe parks busy life continues as the planners plan. The Meta plqy cm at Shea Stadium. Carlo Colon keeps his old-fashioned carousel merrily pinning, the Queens Botanical Garden flowers, the ball fields teem with famni, nd the Hall of Science bubbles with plans for expansion and new programs. The Queens Museum also is ansion plans, and the on the Arts will open a in a portion of the now-unused New York State Pavilion. This spring will mark the 60th anniversary of the 1939 Worlds Fair from which the first television broadcast emanated and the 26th of the 1964 Worlds Fair. Joan Firestone, executive director of the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Corp., said she is reproaching all the big corporations who participated in those fours for contributions to anniversary celebrations she hopes will spotlight the park, and for ongoing renova-tion prqjects to enhance it Bid, she said, the park has to move beyond its identity as the site of the Worlds Fairs. People don't know anything about 1964, she said. We have to the reality of the park for the memories of the fairs.

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