Queens Eyesore Makes Way For New Park
An area in Queens once home to massive gas tanks is now the site of the city's newest park. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
The gas tanks along the Long Island Expressway were once landmarks for thousands of drivers. But for those who lived nearby, landmark wasn't exactly the word they used.
"I'm old enough to remember the days of outside antennas and these tanks provided some miserable TV reception so to the people in the community they were not exceptionally loved," said Manny Caruana of the Juniper Park Civic Association.
The massive gas tanks were part of the landscape for decades. Now that landscape has been turned into a 6.5 acre, $20 million park.
"It has rolling hills, beautiful trees, areas where seniors can sit or walk or exercise, a small athletic field for kids with synthetic turf," said Queens Borough Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski.
The park became a reality after National Grid, then known as Keyspan and before that as Brooklyn Union Gas, removed the tanks in 2005 and did an environmental cleanup. There was talk of a big box store moving in, but community groups like the Juniper Park Civic Association fought back and lobbied the city to create a park. Eventually the utility sold the property to the city for $1.
"This is just an unbelievable miracle about what happened, when we were just months away from a Home Depot being constructed on this site," said Robert Holden of the Juniper Park Civic Association.
"They had six and a half acres as a canvas to create this artwork, which they did a phenomenal job," said Tony Nunziato of the Juniper Park Civic Association.
Elmhurst resident Robert Filippi says he's so excited about the park, he agreed to lead a group of volunteers to shut the gates every night at 9 p.m.
"For 25 years I looked at gas tanks, these big iron structures, and they were not that pretty to look at, but now what I have to look at is incredible," Filippi said.
More than 620 trees were planted at the park: Not as tall as the old tanks, but a much more pleasant view for residents, and for drivers parked on the LIE.