The Juniper Park Civic Association honored Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski with the organization's 2018 Community Service Award during our Town Meeting on December 13th at Our Lady of Hope School. Lewandowski, a lifelong Queens resident who lives in Middle Village, entered retirement on December 31st after a 40-year career with the New York City Parks Department.
"Dottie," as she is affectionately known, started with the Parks Department in 1979. From 1994 to 2004, she worked in the Bronx, first as chief of operations, then as the borough's commissioner.
During her 2004 to 2018 tenure as Queens Parks Commissioner, Ms. Lewandowski oversaw the construction of Elmhurst Park on the former site of the Elmhurst Gas Tanks. She incorporated into the design of the park suggestions made by the membership of local organizations, including JPCA, which had a major role in obtaining the land, as well as Community Board 4.
Dottie also oversaw many capital improvements to Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village, Frank Principe, Reiff and Frontera Parks in Maspeth as well as parks throughout the rest of the borough, including Flushing Meadows-Corona, Alley Pond and Forest Parks. She took on the monumental task of coordinating the reconstruction of the Rockaway Beach boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy. Her cooperation with local historic preservation, civic and environmental organizations was instrumental in rehabilitating and obtaining protection for the Ridgewood Reservoir in Highland Park.
Tony Nunziato, President of the Juniper Park Civic Association, said, "Dorothy Lewandowski will be leaving our parks looking better than ever thanks to her decades of hard work and dedication. We will miss working with her but wish her the best in her next chapter of life."
Christina Wilkinson, President of the Newtown Historical Society and JPCA Executive Board Member, said, "Dorothy Lewandowski unquestionably has left a lasting positive mark on the borough of Queens. We hope to enter into a collaboration with the next borough commissioner and continue to build on the strong foundation that Dottie has laid."
The JPCA presented a plaque and a dozen roses to Ms. Lewandowski and the Newtown Historical Society gifted her a bottle of champagne and set of glass flutes. Her chief-of-staff, Joanne Amagrande, a lifelong Middle Village resident who has worked for Parks since 1992, was also recognized and presented with flowers. Joanne and Dottie have been a team at Queens Parks for the past 14 years and Dorothy credits Joanne for much of her success.
On January 15th, Dorothy was honored by her colleagues and community partners at a retirement gala at the Queens Museum inside Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Joanne Amagrande was the Master of Ceremonies for the event and Christina Wilkinson, Tony Nunziato and Manny Caruana were on hand to wish Dottie well.
Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver has appointed Michael Dockett, a 33-year parks veteran, to succeed Dorothy Lewandowski as Queens Parks Commissioner. We hope to have Mr. Dockett attend a JPCA membership meeting in the future.