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City settlement funds parks in LIC and Maspeth

Residents of Queens and Brooklyn applauded a list of seven potential environmental and recreational projects last week aimed at improving their communities as mitigation for missed deadlines in updating the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

These included wetlands rehabilitation, tree planting and two new parks for Queens.

“It is a first step in an important plan to bring needed recreational activities,” said Dorothy Morehead, of Community Board 2 in Queens.

The nonprofit City Parks Foundation and the state Department of Environmental Conservation presented the list to the communities, including Dutch Kills, Maspeth and Long Island City, during a meeting at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant on Greenpoint Avenue and Provost Street in Brooklyn April 20. This was the culmination of a year-long process to determine what should be done with $7 million given to City Parks Foundation for environmental projects as part of a $10 million settlement between the city and state. The city had been late in updating the wastewater plant and paid the settlement in lieu of fees.

Earlier this year residents in southern Queens and northern Brooklyn voted on which projects the $7 million should fund. The list of 22 projects was narrowed down to seven based on resident voting and a number of other factors, such as proximity to the plant, feasibility and community benefit, said Michelle Moore of the DEC.

“I just want to thank the state for the great job they did with listening to the people,” said David Rivel, executive director of City Parks Foundation.

The primary projects chosen for Queens include $2 million toward acquiring land in Dutch Kills on 47th Avenue from 27th to 29th streets for a park, $500,000 for wetland improvements along the creek in both boroughs and $500,000 for tree-planting projects within Maspeth and Long Island City.

“These are the projects we think fit the criteria best,” Moore said.

The secondary projects chosen for Queens, which will be implemented if additional monies can be found or if any of the primary projects fall through, include a $1 million study to create a pedestrian/bike area on the Pulaski Bridge, which connects the boroughs on 11th Street in Long Island City; and $1.2 million´╗┐ to buy the land at 57-40 58th St. in Maspeth, which once housed St. Saviour’s Church and turn it into a park.

“It’s not a question of wanting a park — it’s needing a park,” state Sen. Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said in support of the St. Saviour’s Plan.

The top priority project will be a Boathouse and Environmental Education Center in Greenpoint similar to the one in Long Island City, for which the settlement could provide $3 million.

While some of these projects have other sources of funding, such as the St. Saviour’s site, the settlement money plans to supplement them. Whatever is chosen, the projects must be implemented within two to three years, Moore said.

The foundation and state are still taking comments up until April 29, when the projects will be finalized. Comments can be sent to david.rivel@parks.nyc.gov or mmmoore@gw.dec.state.ny.us.´╗┐

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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