Veterans Memorial Park reconstruction underway

A lush and colorful garden will bloom next spring in Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park, and for many years to come.

The Parks Department has recently started reconstruction on the first phase of a $1.3 million renovation of Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park. It will include extensive new plantings and other enhancements. A work fence has already been erected along the Ellsworth Avenue entrance to the park, as the Parks Department implements the work originally budgeted in 2008.

The plan calls for the installation of a new stone staircase making access to the park easier, a handicapped accessible entrance, newly-designed paths and plantings near the war memorial, and a steel fence that will likely stretch all the way to the waterfront on the south easternmost perimeter of the park that should deter vandalism to the park, a Parks spokesman said.

“The northern portion of the park, from the park’s border south to the memorial, will be closed during this reconstruction,” said Parks spokesman Zachary Felder. “We expect all work to be completed, and access fully restored, by February 2012.”

Veteran’s advocate Pat Devine, who was instrumental in getting the park built after much wrangling with the city in the 1970s, helped spearhead the renovation by securing funding from Mayor Bloomberg and then-Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. several years ago.

The new renovations should include extensive new plantings that Devine has dubbed a victory garden, which should add to the parks’ memorial that honors veterans, and be a highlight of the newly rehabbed park. In the meantime, the community may not have as much access to the park.

“There is no entrance from the north side, so anyone wanting to use the park will have to enter in the middle, where the flagpole is,” Devine said. “This should remain this way for about nine months, but the additions and improvements should be well worth it.”

Devine and Community Board 10 Parks Committee chairwoman Virginia Gallagher are also working to secure the softball field along the southern end of the park with increased fencing.

The Port-o-Sans used by the Throggs Neck Girls Softball League have been destroyed on three occasions, Gallagher said. Plans are still being devised as to how best secure the area.

“We have a wonderful girls softball league whose Port-o-Sans have been destroyed by vandals three times, and finally the company renting them said lots of luck.” Gallagher stated. “The Parks Department is now looking into putting a concrete base and wall around the area where the Port-o-Sans will be located.”

There will be new fencing placed around the softball field itself, but details are still being worked out with the neighboring Edgewater Park Cooperative Development as to how the fence will stretch to the water’s edge, Devine said.

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