Governor Kathy Hochul in early October announced the completion of a $17.8 million project to construct “Maspeth Park” next to the Kosciuszko Bridge in the Laurel Hill section of Queens. The park is located at the intersection of 43rd Street and 54th Road on nearly one acre of underdeveloped land that was previously used by the state as a staging area during the construction of the new Kosciuszko Bridge, which was completed in 2019.
There was no ribbon cutting for this accomplishment, only an announcement. Hochul claimed in the press release that the new Queens park is “located within walking distance from surrounding residential neighborhoods, including Sunnyside and West Maspeth,” but getting to it on foot through the industrial zone is quite an adventure from any direction.
The park includes a recreational area comprised of game tables, picnic tables, a basketball court, and adult fitness equipment. A skate plaza has also been constructed. What is missing is green space. With its proximity to Newtown Creek and the runoff that causes combined sewer overflows that pollute the creek, you’d think there would have been an effort to include a good amount of absorptive space in the design rather than favor impervious surfaces.
The park, which was part of the deal to build the Kosciuszko Bridge, was completed long after the upgrades to Sgt. William Dougherty Playground on the Greenpoint side of the bridge in 2018 and the construction of the 7-acre “Under the K” Park in 2021, also on the Brooklyn side. The park on the Queens side was supposed to be completed in 2020, instead construction didn’t start until 2022.
Greenpoint, a heavily gentrified area, was gifted 7 acres of new park space thanks to intensive lobbying and funding by its elected officials. Maspeth got less than one. Under the bridge on the Queens side is a series of government parking lots not made available as park space as they were on the Brooklyn side.
We could have had a park at the St. Saviour’s site which would have been within walking distance of thousands of homes, but instead we got a tiny spot most of us will never even see. The Kosciuszko Bridge Stakeholders Advisory Committee had successfully negotiated to include a walking path along the shoreline and a kayak launch under the bridge on the Queens side, but that got scrapped by the state, and that was that.
Queens, and particularly Maspeth, usually gets the short end of the stick, but we are supposed to rejoice at the crumbs thrown our way. We hope the workers in the manufacturing area near the bridge make use of the park, but we don’t see it being considered a destination for anyone else.