Neighbors and residents of Astoria Houses will soon have a newly-beautified waterfront in Hallets Cove with its restoration nearly complete.
What used to be a community eyesore — filled with trash, shopping carts and dead animals — is now a revitalized part of the northwestern waterfront of the borough thanks to a $5 million restoration project.
When the project broke ground last November, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards applauded the collaborative effort of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, former City Councilman Costa Constantinides and the Mayor’s Office to help see old structures and debris be replaced with new wetland vegetation.
“What a difference. Just in time for summer, we’re here to celebrate making the Astoria waterfront healthy and beautiful,” Richards said. “For far too long, this beautiful piece of waterfront has been anything but that.”
Richards continued, “And while the rest of Western Queens waterfront wasa being developed into hubs of culture and community, this space was left to deteriorate and decay. We will never accept that. We lead with the premise, no matter what your socioeconomic status, it should not be a determinant on whether your waterfront sees investment.”
The site was also where longtime Astoria Houses resident Claudia Coger took Constantinides to see the abandoned pier along Vernon Boulevard. Constantinides then took new City Councilwoman Tiffany Caban to the site, continuing to advocate for its cleanup.
The project will bring new trees lining the street and new railing along Vernon Boulevard. The former eyesore also was the home of a longtime radio tower that began to decay in the cove.
“The first thing that my predecessor did with me was walk me right over here,” Councilwoman Caban said.
She added that the revitalization of a community landmark can help revitalize the people within the community as well.
“This is not going to just have public health impacts, but public safety impacts,” Caban said. “We know that restorations like this make our communities that much safer.”
A total of $3 million had been allocated by the Borough President’s office across fiscal years 2016 and 2017 towards the restoration project, under Melinda Katz. Constantinides and the Mayor’s office each allocated $1 million in funding.
The Parks Department is also currently working on a separate project adjacent to the Hallets Cove playground.
Queens Community Board 1 District Manager Florence Koulouris praised the ongoing commitment to the environment and highlighted the many steps the project has taken to get to its current point, which includes a pair of Borough Presidents and a pair of City Council Members.
“This shows how when people work together, things can change and people can make a difference,” Koulouris said.