May. 4, 2023 By Ethan Marshall
Queens Community members and leaders on May 4 gathered at John Bowne Park to celebrate the completion of renovations that had been approximately seven years in the works. Among the notable Queens leaders on hand were NYC Parks Queens Borough Commissioner Jackie Langsam, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Councilwoman Vickie Paladino, Community Board 7 Chair Gene Kelty and former Council member and current Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services Paul Vallone.
“Parks are important, as they help us grow, give us a place to play and relax, bring neighbors together and connect us through a shared history that forms the building blocks of our community,” Langsam said. “We are glad that the community will get to enjoy this park for many years to come. Thank you Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and to Council Member Paladino, who saw this project to the finish line and to former Council member Vallone for initiating this project.”
In addition to the park’s playground being renovated a few years ago, two capital projects have now been completed. The first project was for the reconstruction of the Bowne Park Plaza and rebuilding the existing bocce courts and adding new bistro tables, benches, chairs and decorative favors. This project was made possible by Mayor Adams and the City Council, who provided $1.1 million in funding for it.
The second project, with an estimated cost of $2.5 million, was to renovate the pond to improve its water quality. Also funded by the City Council and mayor’s office, the project included a new aeration system to deter harmful algae blooms, the removal of accumulated sediment from the pond’s bottom, a new water pump that allows for the use of ground water, stone wall edge repairs and adding two turtle islands at the middle of the pond.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Richards said. “But now the park is back bigger and better than ever. I want to thank my colleagues and the parks department. To the families and community, thank you. We all know John Bowne Park is one of the beautiful hidden gems in our borough.”
Richards also made it a point to celebrate Vallone for kick-starting the project back when he was a Council member and Paladino for seeing that it was completed. According to Paladino, checking in on where things stood in regards to the project was one of the first things she did upon taking office in January 2021.
“I brought the Parks Department in within the first seven days of my being in office,” Paladino said. “The visit was to talk about the park we have right here, right now. We took the meetings, set up the construction company, we understood what was going on. Any kind of permits that needed to be had we made sure was had. We tackled everything from the construction of this pond. When we got to the bottom of all the delays, we fixed it and moved forward. I stand here proudly with my colleagues and office staff. We did this together.”
In addition to overseeing the completion of the project, Paladino also allocated $5,000 to the Bowne Park Civic Association for the planting of a new spruce tree at the park.
“My family is always here and my kids grew up here,” Vallone said. “When I was in office, we made John Bowne Park the shining jewel. You all came and made that happen. To every one of the park presidents, community board members, civic leaders and families, you all came and to this day didn’t stop.”
Following a ribbon-cutting to celebrate all the work’s completion, many of the community leaders went to the new bocce court for a quick game before viewing the new spruce tree.
John Bowne Park was acquired by Parks on June 1, 1925. It made headlines on June 10, 1969, as the first park in the city with an instant playground, providing ready-made modular playground equipment to communities lacking adequate recreational facilities.