It has been one year since the Mayor and elected officials cut the ribbon and officially opened Elmhurst Park to the delight of local park users. There is much to look back on and much in the future.
We look back on when the Juniper Park Civic Association stood up to a large utility company and the city and stated we needed a park at the site and not the proposed Home Depot, possible storage facility or another bank with their accompanying traffic and pollution.
We look forward to the opportunities a park provides for the health of our families by giving us a safe haven to play, exercise and relax with plenty of trees and grass.
For many years we lived with the two enormous gas tanks looming in the background. We always wondered what would happen if they ever exploded. People who lived near them had their television signal blocked and had lousy reception. The tanks were a landmark with LIE traffic reports.
Sometimes only once in a lifetime the opportunity of a large piece of land becomes available. Choosing a park instead of more places to shop affirms the fact that the population has grown tremendously and there is only so much greenspace. Once land is built on the cost of creating a park becomes cost prohibitive.
Think of those who had the vision to create a park in the middle of Manhattan when it was still largely undeveloped. What is that land worth? Can you imagine New York without Central Park? It is one of the greatest attractions for tourists and locals alike and is a much-needed oasis among the hustle and bustle of the city and the concrete and steel of the skyscrapers.
Elmhurst Park has a good location right on Grand Avenue, it is easily accessible and has a large number of people enjoying it each day. There are many families with young children enjoying the playground, or playing ball, flying kites and frolicking in the sprinklers. In the mornings a group exercises to music, while others just walk, jog or do Tai Chi. There are large areas for playing and quiet shady areas for sitting and relaxing. In the evening a game of soccer is played occasionally on the artificial turf.
One of the favorite aspects of the park is the grass hill. It is so popular that the top has become bald and a fence was put up so the grass could regrow. From the top the view of the sky is especially nice at sunset. In the winter after a snowfall the hill is a good place for sleigh riding.
The trees are filling out and the shrubs are flowering and the grass is green and all of this beauty needs a little help or should I say a lot of help from Park Department. Park employee, Carmelo could often be seen most days cutting the grass and keeping the park clean. He says he really enjoys his job because the people in the community care about the park. Litter and vandalism have been minor problems according to Carmelo.
With the opening of the new high school on 74th Street it will present new challenges to the community. Will the older children be a problem? We will have to keep our eyes open and perhaps work with the school so they will learn to enjoy and respect the park as much as the rest of the community.
Right now there have been two volunteers closing the gates at night when it gets dark. They would like others to share the load. If you would like to volunteer call the Park Department Headquarters at 718 520-5905.
Come and discover Elmhurst Park for yourself and bring the family. Trust me, you'll enjoy it.