April 13, 2013 By Bill Parry,
Long Island City, NY: The restoration of storm-damaged Shady Park took a significant step forward when Jet Blue and Warner Bros. recently announced that they had donated a combined total of $10,000 toward its repair.
The news kicked off an event held last weekend at the park by a grass roots advocacy group that is exploring a range of options as to how best to restore Shady Park back to its former glory after it was devastated by Superstorm Sandy. The group, called Friends of Shady Park, produced several plans that focused on replacing the downed trees–and then reviewed the public’s feedback on each of them.
The storm destroyed much of the park, known officially as Andrews Grove, when high winds blew down seven 50-foot Linden trees that provided a lush canopy of shade that became a favorite of more than four generations of local residents.
Friends of Shady Park presented the public with a number of options.
“The Parks Department could go about it without input from us and plant small trees,” said Caroline Paul, a co-founder of the group. Alternatively, she said, “they could plant larger trees with community fundraising.”
The size of the tree plantings is a cause for debate because smaller trees would take longer to mature and provide the shade that all involved hope to recreate. The re-creation of the canopy is a process that will take decades so the replanting of more mature trees would provide something of a jump start.
However, larger trees are more susceptible to dying when they are planted as opposed to smaller trees that are more durable, according to the city officials.
The final option presented by the group was the construction of an artificial shade structure. “That would require architects– and would keep the park closed for an extended period [while it was built],” said Paul. The review of the comments last week showed there was little interest in the artificial shade idea.
“Designing and installing shade structures cannot happen in time for this summer,” said co-founder Sheila Lewandowski, following the review. Therefore, while several people asked about them, “the majority of people don’t want to wait to open the park.”
The majority of the comments, 95 of them written, called for the planting of the largest trees possible this spring. Paul cautioned that the group’s input is limited saying, “We don’t have decision power but the Parks Department is listening to us as the voice of the community.”