A green and clean southeast Queens
Adams calls for beautification of southeast Queens neighborhoods
By Evan Triantafilidis
Despite not attaining one percent of the city’s agreed upon $101.1 million budget for its parks and green spaces, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams spent her Saturday morning advocating for a greener and cleaner southeast Queens.
A rally held at Baisley Pond Park in Jamaica highlighted the need for community involvement in beautification projects and praised the ongoing efforts already underway for cleaner streets, parks, and open spaces.
Representatives from city agencies and community advocate groups were in attendance to cheer on each other before a community cleanup of Baisley Pond Park.
“For a long time, southeast Queens has grappled with issues of traffic in our neighborhoods, from consistent illegal parking to inadequate litter basket service,” Adams said. “During the height of the pandemic, the people of our communities have bore the brunt of this long-standing problem.”
Within the city’s budget for parks is $43 million added for upgrades and maintenance, and an additional $4 million is slated to bring 50 Urban Park Rangers for programming, wildlife management and staffing at nature centers.
The budget also calls for $22 million to increase litter basket service above pre-pandemic levels and funding a waste containerization study and 1,000 rat-resistant litter baskets for $5 million.
An additional $488 million in capital funds will go towards funding parks improvement projects, including planting 20,000 trees per year, and adding new greenways in Brooklyn and Queens.
The one percent threshold for parks was a campaign promise of Mayor Eric Adams that will fall short by a few hundred million dollars.
“Our beloved green spaces and waterways like Baisley Pond Park also require improved maintenance and care,” Councilwoman Adams said. “They have been and continue to be a haven for all of us throughout this pandemic. So it is imperative that we invest in their upkeep.”
Adams, the former chair of Community Board 12, added that her former Community Board has one of the highest rates of illegal dumping complaints in the city.
New York State Senator Leroy Comrie says he believes in the leadership of Council Speaker Adams and Majority Whip Selvena Brooks-Powers, to transform southeast Queens’ open spaces into an example for both the borough and city.
He expressed the importance of community cleanups like Saturday morning’s event, where volunteers from the Carpenter Contractor Alliance of Metropolitan of New York showed up to pick up litter throughout the park.
“You want to be able to come to a clean environment, near your home, that is maintained by a community effort,” Comrie said. He also applauded the local initiatives that “increase the opportunity for local participation and do everything else necessary to make our parks beautiful.”
Brooks-Powers honed in on the local problem of illegal dumping that she called a chronic issue across the city, especially in southeast Queens.
She cited a recent cleanup on the boardwalk in Far Rockaway where organizers and volunteers collected over 80,000 pounds of trash.
“This surprising number is a testament to how serious the issue for our community really is,” Brooks-Powers said. “Every day, my staff and I field calls from constituents, reporting another incident of littering, and we are hard at work to respond to the dumping issues and cleanup requests.”
As part of Saturday’s cleanup, interns from NYC H2O went into the park’s pond to remove debris and garbage. Students learned about the history and ecology behind Baisley Pond, which was once a reservoir built in 1858 to supply what was at the time the City of Brooklyn.
The pond serves as a native habitat for wildlife including turtles, frogs and red-headed ducks, says Matt Molina, director and founder of H2O NYC.
“We are cleaning here today because we want students to see the beauty of the park rather than the garbage,” Molina said. “And these cleanups are something that we love doing because they bring out the best in the best New Yorkers.”