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Flushing hosts inaugural Memorial Day observance

By Juan Arturo Trillo

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At Kissena Park in Flushing, a group of veterans, families, community leaders, and elected officials joined together on Friday afternoon to honor those whose lives were taken in the line of service. The inaugural Flushing Memorial Day Observance was hosted by City Councilwoman Sandra Ung and co-sponsored by the Kissena Park Civic Association, Holly Civic Association, Fujian Association, and the Youth Orchestra, which provided live music for the ceremony.

The service commenced with the presentation of the national colors, and followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, Star Spangled Banner, and speeches from Flushing’s leaders and politicians. Speakers included Councilwoman Ung, Congresswoman Grace Meng, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, and others.

Photo: Emil Cohen

“I know that Memorial Day weekend is often about backyard barbecues and spending time with friends and family,” Ung said. “So, I want to thank everyone who joined us to take time to start the weekend by honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation.”

U.S. Rep. Meng added, “As our world becomes full of distractions, it is so important that we still come together to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

Afterwards, everyone placed a flower at the foot of the Korean War Memorial.

Thomas Oliva, candidate for Queens Civil Court, asks people to “have a moment of silence, a moment of remembrance as to why and what we’re really celebrating on this three-day weekend.” Three of Oliva’s uncles served in the Korean War.

Johnny Kelly, president of the Kissena Park Civic Association, said that Ung “helped bring our community together and have a moment of silent reflection for the souls of those people who died for us.”

He added that “the real question is—they gave their lives for us—what are we doing for our country?” Kelly said, “if we want this country to move forward, we have to fight, like these people fought. We have to fight for our democracy.”

The observance was attended by the Korean Vietnam War Association of New York, Korean War Veterans Association of Greater New York, and the Queensboro Hill Post of the VFW. Cadets from the Francis Lewis High School JROTC led the Presentation of Colors.

Assemblywoman Rozic said she hopes the inaugural event is the start of a newfound tradition in Flushing.

“As someone who has seen what this community has gone through the last couple of years, it is heartening to see everyone from all walks of life coming together for this Memorial Day in what will hopefully be a tradition for many years to come,” Rozic said.

Plans to reconstruct Kissena Corridor fields

Community members had the chance to give their input and ideas on a planned $2.7 million reconstruction of the ball fields in Kissena Corridor Park.
“The ballfields in this section of Kissena Corridor Park have long suffered from pockmarked grass and flooding issues,” said Councilman Peter Koo. “Nevertheless, the fields are frequently used by our community due to a lack of other options.”
Koo and Speaker Corey Johnson secured a total of $3 million to fix the fields that sit on 1.5 acres along Utopia Parkway between Peck and Underhill avenues.
James Mituzas, director of Landscape Architecture for Queens NYC Parks, said the project could take over three years.
“We won’t have a shovel in the ground for another two years, and the construction process takes about 12 to 18 months,” he said. “We’ll probably miss a whole baseball season for construction.”
The project will address other issues, as well. Fencing will be repaired and drinking fountinas, security lighting and benches will be added.
Lee Ann Beauchamp, Landscape Architect at City of New York Parks & Recreation presented the issues that will be fixed.
“We will be reconstructing the ballfield, but we’ll also be reconstructing the pathways that lead to and around them,” said Lee Ann Beauchamp, a landscape architect with the Parks Department.
Jennifer Elias, who lives two blocks from the fields, said they are often used as a dog run.
“I can’t recall the last time I saw a ball game being played there,” she said.
Frank Weber, former president of St. Kevin’s Youth Guild, holds permits to use the fields and asked for natural turf to be part of the redesign.
“With the drainage issues, if you notice when you’re doing the surveys, there is an average of one to two steel manhole covers in the outfields, and if a child is running to catch a ball he or she could land on that manhole” he said.
Mituzas said that could be a possibility
“The type of funding we have right now for this project, it would be ideal for us to reconstruct the field as a natural turf ballfield,” said Mituzas. “I think that’s something we can do for this park at this time.”

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