Today’s news:

Francis Lew Park waits for new play area in May

A map of the proposed park, which is set to open this spring. Image courtesy Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority
TimesLedger Newspapers

Northeast Queens commuters might be pulling out their hair over two more years of ongoing construction on the Whitestone Bridge, but for children the important work is nearly complete, thanks to a new playground set to open in early May.

MTA Bridges and Tunnels announced that the playground in Francis Lewis Park will be reborn on better real estate boasting new equipment, just in time for spring.

“We are proud to be part of this close-knit community and work hard to continue to be a good neighbor,” said Ray Webb, the MTA general manager for the bridge. “We hope that the new playground will bring smiles to all who use it for many years to come.”

The playground will be located east of the bocce courts in Francis Lewis Park, a step up from the old location nearly directly under the bridge, according to the MTA.

The site includes new swings, a climbing boulder, sprinkler-like fixtures to douse any nearby children and a sensory play area, where youngsters can investigate different physical phenomena. The amenities might not be as exciting for adults, but new benches that the MTA plans to install might be a good place to sit and view the world.

The concession is part of a $107 million project to widen the Whitestone Bridge over a 3 1/2 year construction period. The extra space will provide room for an emergency lane.

As part of the construction process, the Queens side of the bridge will lose a lane of traffic for a year beginning this summer.

In addition, the northbound 3rd Avenue exit will also be shuttered around the same time, according to the MTA.

The closure will last for two years and traffic attempting to exit the expressway will be routed through local streets, the MTA said.

The two contractors working on the project, E.E. Cruz and Queens’ Tully Construction, will also be responsible for making structural improvements to the support structure of the span, which connects the borough to the Bronx.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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Reader Feedback

Jeremy from Whitestone says:
Spring will be a little brighter for the children of Whitestone. A silver lining to the upcoming bridge expansion.
March 29, 2012, 11:52 am
Lisa from Whitestone says:
Your ongoing interest in our children is somewhat disturbing!
March 29, 2012, 12:21 pm
Jeremy from Whitestone says:
M'am, I find what you are implying disturbing and down right offensive. I was simply commenting on a good news piece given the fact that the area will be ensured in heavy bridge construction.

The timing of the new park is great, and will give parents seeking a place to take their kids to get some fresh air and exercise a local place to go.
March 29, 2012, 1:52 pm
uptown502 from Between Whitestone & College Point says:
I'd bet my last dollar that this will not be constructed this May (2012) or even by next year (2013). They've destroyed all the hundred year old crab apple trees just to make a parking lot for their equipment. It's a shanda, I tell ya.
March 29, 2012, 2:10 pm
Lisa from Whitestone says:
Your reaction is even more disturbing!
March 29, 2012, 2:20 pm
Alfredo C says:
How one can take a positive comment and insult someone with such a vile implications is truly disgusting. It is about time this park gets a new playground away from under the bridge. Yet some of you will attempt to take away the positive. Disturbing and disgusting.
March 29, 2012, 4:33 pm
Lisa from Whitestone says:

Alfredo Centola, how dare you! As a mom, it is my job to protect my child from any form of potential danger. A mom alarm will always sound when reading or hearing comments from people having an overextend ongoing interest with our children's outdoor play and activities. Yes, I find that disturbing, one may even say my feelings are somewhat paranoid, so be it, I will protect my child with all I have. Then you, Alfredo, take the loving interest and concerns of a young Whitestone mother and call her disgusting and vile. You are truly a pig!
March 29, 2012, 7:34 pm
Jeremy from Whitestone says:
Lisa, I appreciate your concerns as a Whitestone mother. I was born and raised in Whitestone and so when I see productive things happen that benefit the community I feel compelled to comment. I think we can all agree that it's not very often we see things actually work in direct favor to the community so it's nice to see it when they do. I also have great respect for all Whitestone parents as I was raised by two of them.
So when a brand new park/playground is built for kids, free of dangerous worn-out edges on metal, and out from under a bridge where tractor-trailers rumble overhead, and just an all-around modern improvement, it makes you feel good that children will have a safe clean place their parents can take them to. Hopefully the parents will see this as opportunity to teach their kids that internet & video games aren't all that life has to offer outside of school.

That's all I really meant by my initial post. I'm sorry you've misconstrued the comments, but as I said above, the new park is an excellent gain for the community.
March 29, 2012, 7:52 pm
Jeremy from Whitestone says:
*Point of clarification on my above post. I am not a Whitestone mother, what is meant by the first sentence is that I appreciate Lisa's concerns.
March 29, 2012, 7:56 pm
Alfredo C says:
Lisa you are a sad excuse, you throw out comments like "Your ongoing interest in our children is somewhat disturbing" in response to "Spring will be a little brighter for the children of Whitestone. A silver lining to the upcoming bridge expansion".

You know who I am but we do not know who you are. How were the comments from Jeremy "people having an overextend ongoing interest with our children's outdoor play and activities"?

He made a positive comment about the park and you turn it into a negative thing. You attack and insult yet pretend to be offended when called on your comments. You allude to people being pedophiles, and call other pigs. You make comments that are insulting and downright nasty. Heaven forbid someone calls you on it.

You obviously are either paranoid, or just downright mean spirited. I hope just paranoid, which can be a positive when it comes to protecting your children, if what you say is true.
March 29, 2012, 8:03 pm
Lisa from Whitestone says:
Alfredo Centola, now we know you protect your own and not the children you claim to care so much about. The red flags in Jeremy's comments are,"spring will be a little brighter for the children" and " it makes you feel good that children will have a safe clean place their parents cans take them to". His comments state an unhealthy interest in children playing and no mention of having children of his own. My comments did not anger him only you, why is that? But putting that aside, please, just keep your friends out of our parks and away from our children.
March 30, 2012, 8:48 am
Alfredo says:
LISA whatever your last name is, "his comments state an unhealthy interest in children"? ok I guess if that is how you saw it, better safe than sorry. Keep my friends out of the park? Why must you always be so negative?

Can't people see some good in what is being said or done sometimes? You dont think your comments might have been a little over reactive?

Maybe its me, does anyone else out there feel that Jeremy's comments state and "unhealty interest in children"?
March 30, 2012, 9:18 am
Alfredo says:
Lisa, there you go again with your negative and nasty accusations. " now we know you protect your own and not the children you claim to care so much about". You obviously know nothing about me or what I am about. You have some serious issues and have an obvious agenda. Do you always begin every discussion with an insult?

Sad Sad Sad.
March 30, 2012, 9:21 am
Marco from Glendale says:
Centolas is the guy that walks around with a video camera. I caught him on my morning school bus run. He tapes our buses in Whitestone on the way to school, I always thought it was because of speeding or something like that.
March 30, 2012, 9:39 am
Barbara says:

Mr. Centola, I do not think one should be attacked for expressing concerns in relation to their children's play area. The young lady just said she finds your friends comments disturbing..

Marco, I am also concerned with your comment, if true please elaborate, again if true and tangible proof is available, I will insist on a full investigation..
March 30, 2012, 11:08 am
Peter G. from Whitestone says:
Words an over protective mother and why not, seems Jeremy gets it and was nice enough to makes his point clear but Alfredo you are an ass, everything is always about you. Everything you accuse everybody of is what you do and say all the time.

Tell us more about this video taping of school buses?
March 30, 2012, 11:42 am
EllenB says:
You people are crazy Marco you should be arrested for defamation, libel, and whatever else. How dare you make accusations like that! I have know Al for years and you are a liar.

Barbara you know full well he is a liar and should be ashamed of yourself as well!

Community members and leaders indeed!
March 30, 2012, 11:44 am
Barbara says:
EllenB, Mr. Centola has always found time to address issues of concern to him, I do not thinks he needs you to try to shame others by calling them crazy and liars..

Marco, my dear, If you haven't already you must discuss this with your employer then they will decide the course of action. If what you have stated is not true, an apology is in order..

However, if this is true and tangible proof is made public, I will guarantee a full investigation will take place..
March 30, 2012, 1:23 pm
EllenB says:
Barbara, I am not attempting to shame anyone. There needs to be an investigation into Marco and his defamation.

An apology? he should be arrested, Marco that is.

And at least he signs his last name, you people hide behind first names that might or might not be real, as you attempt to drag a good man thru the mud.
March 30, 2012, 1:30 pm
EllenB says:
Marco, you said he video tapes your buses and that you thought he was doing it for speeding? Are one of those Bus drivers that speeds down the streets?

Why would you think for speeding, unless you speed , in a Yellow School Bus with Children?
March 30, 2012, 1:35 pm
Jeremy from Whitestone says:
Checking back on this discussion forum, I must admit I am a bit taken aback by the fierce reaction my initial comment touched off. My intention was certainly not to inflame tempers or to serve as a primer for posters to attack other posters. I simply thought it was a nice news story, that's all.

It goes without saying that people are free to express how they feel, and that's what I did. It's important to keep in mind that we're talking about a new park here and not anything beyond that really.

One person found my comments disturbing and I kindly made the effort to clarify what I meant in efforts to clear up any concerns or apprehensions. My hope was that it would've helped, and if not, we'd all just move on any way because in the end, everyone has a right to say what they want.

That's the whole point of public discourse.
March 30, 2012, 1:47 pm
Lisa from Whitestone says:
Please allow me to publicly apologize to Jeremy, I overreacted to your first comments and after re-reading your follow up, your sincerely rings true. Sorry!

But Alfredo Centola you make my Skin Crawl!
March 30, 2012, 1:52 pm
Barbara says:
Marco, it is in your best interest not to post anything more on this page. Contact your employer, have them read this and they will decide what if anything to do next.
March 30, 2012, 2:07 pm
EllenB says:
His "employer" has already been contacted.
Good Advice
March 30, 2012, 2:39 pm
Barbara says:
EllenB, It seems you are privy to a great deal more information on this matter than the rest of us.
March 30, 2012, 4:20 pm
Marco from Glenndale says:
an update. I saw this guys face in the paper, it was him. Monday June 11 6:15 am this guy Alfredo was on clintonville street in Whitestone with a camera taping my bus when I went by. He does it to the other drivers also, I Told by boss, he is a very creepy guy.
June 18, 2012, 6:15 am
miguel from whitestone says:
Maybe centola has a "thing" for children. Loud mouth, obnoxious and full of B.S. That should be his motto.
Oct. 27, 2012, 3:24 pm

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