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Rob Basch: Champion of Long Island City parks

Photo courtesy of Rob Basch

Apr. 25, 2024 By Olivia Seaman

Rob Basch is not your average volunteer. While many might shy away from the idea of picking up trash for a living, Basch embraces it wholeheartedly. As the president of the Hunters Point Park Conservancy in Long Island City, he dedicates his days to nurturing the park and transforming it into a haven for the Queens community.

With picturesque views of Manhattan and Brooklyn, Hunters Point Park South holds a special place in the hearts of locals. Basch recognizes the importance of maintaining its beauty.

“We hate litter, but someone has to get down and pick it up.”

He has served in his role since 2014, ensuring his presence is felt in the park daily. Beyond his efforts in park maintenance, he spearheads fundraising initiatives to support summer programming. From outdoor movie nights to waterfront 5k runs, Basch strives to offer enriching experiences that bring the community together.

Photo courtesy of Rob Basch

He most cherishes the park’s outdoor movie series. “While the movie could be good, what I get satisfaction from is seeing people have a good time,” Basch said. “Watching people picnicking and families being together is why I do my work.” 

He also emphasized his passion for fostering community in Long Island City. Having experienced a lack of community involvement in his former Manhattan residence, he found solace in the camaraderie of Queens. He explains, “For me, it’s more on a selfish basis. I get so much out of just seeing people having a good time.

When he is not taking care of the park or holding events, he is offering environmental education to K-12 students at the newly-opened Queens Landing Boathouse and Environmental Center. With lessons on topics ranging from flood mitigation to boating, he teaches students about the beauty of taking care of nature. 

“Hopefully a kindergartner or first grader can come here and learn something and be motivated,” Basch said. “In ten years, they’ll know how to save the planet.” 

His impact on the park as a whole has not gone unnoticed. Jessica Sechrist, executive director of Hunters Park Point Conservancy acknowledges his pivotal role. 

“Rob has been essential in providing strong volunteer leadership,” Sechrist said. “Through coming out consistently to run volunteer groups, help fundraise and work with various city and state officials, it takes so much time and effort. Rob has been a champion of our parks.”

Basch encourages Long Island City residents to join in on the fun. “Once you get your hands dirty, you’ll find how good you feel when you’re doing it,” he said. “We only have one Earth, and we need people to help keep it vibrant.” 

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