The New York City Council recently voted to pass the 2023 budget which included a total of more than $16 million in funding for parks in Queens.
Frank Principe Park is receiving $6.8 million for the reconstruction of the children’s playground, including new play equipment, safety surfacing, sidewalks, a drainage system and safety lighting.
Lance Lovejoy, of Friends of Frank Principe, a community organization that works to improve their park, said he was delighted with the funding but hopes more will come.
“I think it’s way overdue,” Lovejoy said. “I am very happy and hope this is just the start of things to come. The park has been neglected forever. I think since we started posting everything [to Facebook] It got the ball rolling and I hope this is just the beginning.
City Council Member Robert Holden has worked to bring this funding to his district and is pleased to say “Queens is no longer short-changed.”
“Besides introducing sensible legislation and my always-on constituent service focus, making sure my constituents get their fair share of city funding is one of my top priorities.” , Holden said. “I am proud to say that funding will continue where it is needed most and that we can continue to maintain a high quality of life in our neighborhoods.
While residents are generally happy to see the funding coming to their local parks and green spaces, some feel aggrieved that Mafera Park will only receive $500,000 for various improvements.
Linda Byszynski, the leader of Friends of Mafera Park, said she hoped Holden would be able to allocate more funds in the future.
“It’s really disappointing because we’ve been advocating for a very long time and basically with these numbers they’ve just proven that they prefer to allocate funds for a place like Juniper Park which has been renovated many times whereas Mafera hasn’t. [seen] no renovation for a long time.
Juniper Valley Park received $3.74 million to renovate bathrooms near tennis courts. Byszynski argues that Mafera is overlooked due to income disparities between areas like Middle Village where Juniper is located and Mafera of Ridgewoodv.
“If they wanted to distribute the money fairly, they could,” Byszynski said. “We are not abandoning Mafera Park. It serves over 100,000 people and should get the funding it deserves.
Kevin Ryan, Holden’s director of communications, said any implication that this funding was income-based in certain neighborhoods is simply not true.
“The councilman thinks every park in the city is a gem in the city,” Ryan said. “He always wants more parks, better funded parks and better parks all over the city.”
Ryan explained that in order for Mafera Park to receive more funding, residents would have to submit specific requests so Holden could contact the Parks Department to try to make it happen.
“Work with our office and identify priorities. Prioritize one thing over another and the councilman will work on it and we’ll start the process,” Ryan said.
“Uncle” Vito F. Maranzano Glendale Playground received $5.8 million to replace playground mats, renovate the site layout and perform drainage work.