Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Cemetery eyeing East Elmhurst park space
From the Daily News:
A PROPOSAL to sell a hard-to-access 4-acre parcel of parkland in East Elmhurst to a cemetery has stalled - despite strong community support.
Elected officials said the proceeds from the sale of the triangular plot - bounded by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and 30th Ave. - would go toward purchasing park land in another location. And the sale would allow the nearby St. Michael's Cemetery to expand.
But the city Parks Department won't sign off on the plan until a comparable plot of land is lined up, officials said.
"The reason why we're opposing the transfer of the land is because we don't have replacement parkland," said agency spokeswoman Trish Bertuccio. "Green space in New York City is scarce, and we want to make sure that we preserve as much of it as possible."
The parcel is open space along the highway, without any playgrounds or play equipment.
Cheryl Huber, deputy director of New Yorkers for Parks, said she has heard the land is also used by BMX bikers. She said she was upset when she learned that Community Board 1 and the City Council had supported the sale.
"It's always better to replace parkland with parkland instead of money, to guarantee that the community will still have open space," she said.
But Assemblyman Michael Gianaris isn't so sure that the land is worth saving.
"It's decrepit. It's unkempt. There's rats and vermin in there," the Astoria Democrat said. "We have the opportunity to actually create acreage of good parkland in a different location and put this land to productive use."
He was approached by cemetery officials with the idea last year, he said. In February 2009, he introduced a bill in the Assembly to authorize the sale - since city parkland can't be bought or sold without legislative approval.
Cemetery officials declined comment on the potential sale.
But City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said it will allow St. Michael's, established in 1852, to survive for a least another 20 years.
"They were out of plot land," Vallone said.
His office is now looking into potential sites for new parks in northwestern Queens.
St. Michael's "will keep that land in much better condition than it is now," Vallone said. "It's going to make the piece of property much more beautiful to the public."
How stupid do these 2 electeds sound since the park is in their districts and its lack of upkeep is partially their fault?
Not only that, but Vallone's family lobbied hard for the sale. Now we know why Mike & Pete are so adamantly for it.