The annual push for a park at St. Saviour's
by Daniel Bush
Sep 21, 2010 | 4125 views | 0 0 comments | 127 127 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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The St. Saviour's site in Maspeth.
One day, the St. Saviour's site in Maspeth might become a city park.

That time is far off, but that reality doesn't stop civic groups from asking for the project anyway each time Community Board Five holds its annual capital and expense budget hearing.

The exchange has become a ritual in this part of Western Queens.

Every fall, the community board holds a public forum to solicit requests on wish-list infrastructure projects from individuals and civic organizations.

And each fall, the same determined people take their turn at the podium to ask that CB5 prioritize their longtime plan to turn the former St. Saviour's church site on 58th Street and 57th Drive into a neighborhood park.

“This is a prime opportunity for the public to reclaim this land,” Paul Graziano, Landmarks and Preservation chairman of the Queens Civic Congress, said in a letter that was read at CB5's budget hearing September 15.

“The size of the St. Saviour's site gives us a unique opportunity to create a park we can all enjoy,” said a member of Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together. The chance to seize a large chunk of land in Maspeth for open space might not come around again, he added.

This is likely true, especially in Maspeth's industrial west end, where open space is at a premium. Yet this hasn't changed the fact that little seems to happen to move the project forward from one year to the next.

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe has said he would like to build a park there, if officials can secure funding. So far, Borough President Helen Marshall and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley have set aside a combined $3.5 million for the project.

But it would cost three or four times that, if not more, and no new funding appears to be in sight.

CB5 leaders like the plan, but have chosen to focus on more pressing infrastructure projects, like improving the sewer system to reduce flooding that has become prevalent in recent years.

Vincent Arcuri, the board's chairman, said vital projects in the district have been pushed back years because of tough times. Given that, “how can we advocate for another park?”

“Realistically, there's no money for it,” he added.

So for now the project remains a dream. Within reach, perhaps, but not any time soon. Never mind, though: there's always next year's budget hearing.

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