Sept. 27, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
A local parks group is pushing to change the name of Long Island City’s popular Hunter’s Point South Park, believing that its current title fails to do the sprawling waterfront park justice.
The Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, the non-profit group that helps maintain and program the now 11-acre park along with the neighboring Gantry Plaza State Park, says there are more reasons to change the park’s name than to keep it.
“It’s an amazing park, and the name doesn’t represent how beautiful the park is and how inclusive it is for everyone from Queens and elsewhere,” said Rob Basch, president of the HPPC.
The name, to start, is too long and therefore easy to forget, Basch said. It’s also frequently confused with other sites, like two nearby housing developments with “Hunter’s Point” in the name, and even Hunts Point in the Bronx. The Hunters Point Community Park nearby, additionally, has also tripped up some folks.
The park’s city-wide recognition is also at stake, Basch said, believing that the park, even with its newly-opened section, doesn’t have the standing it deserves.
The group feels it can gather much community support for the renaming. Any historical reasons for keeping the name are not strong, they say.
City documents show that the area was first named Hunters Point in the early 1800s, and that the neighborhood’s efforts to secede from the former Newtown township started a couple of decades later. The area soon chose to become incorporated into Long Island City.
The HPPC feels the neighborhood’s history shows that mid 19th century residents were already trying to rebrand themselves, and that Queens has changed considerably since then, which warrants a new name.
“We want something inclusive, more majestic,” Basch said.
While the conservancy has recently launched an online survey to solicit ideas for what the park should be named, one possible contender already stands out—Queens Landing Park.
Basch notes that the name, while not officially proposed, depicts the park as an opening into the “World’s Borough”.
Renaming a public park requires a lengthy public review process including approval from the community board and City Council. The conservancy, however, has already begun conversations with NYC Parks on the name change.
“We are generally amendable to the idea, and have asked the Conservancy to bring their proposal before the Community Board,” said Meghan Lalor, NYC Parks spokesperson.
The conservancy may have a point in the park’s name being less than memorable, as several Hunter’s Point South Park-goers the LIC Post spoke to were unable to identify the park they were in.
“I always thought it was Gantry Plaza State Park,” said Sindy Lucio, whose been going to both waterfront parks for several years.
David Hill, a Long Island City resident for 10 years, did not realize that Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point South Park were distinct, with the former run by the state and the latter, to the south, under the city. The parks split at 50th Avenue and Center Boulevard.
Nonetheless, he’d support shortening the city park’s name.
“I’d drop the ‘South’,” he said. “There’s no ‘Hunters Point North’.”
Tenzin Takne, who began heading to the waterfront parks when Gantry Plaza State Park first opened, has generally referred to the entire waterfront park space on Center Boulevard as simply “Vernon-Jackson.”
“I’m pretty indifferent,” she said when asked about supporting a change to the park’s name.
The conservancy first began thinking of a renaming about a year ago, and are now hoping that a change could go through next year if all works out.
“A park as beautiful as it is really deserves something to be remembered by,” Basch said.