March 17, 2014 By Christian Murray
Hunters Point residents will soon have a community-based organization where all their concerns and desires relating to this area’s parks will be heard.
The group, to be called the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, will be taking on the role of advocating on behalf of residents concerning all the green space in the neighborhood– from Gantry Plaza State Park, Hunters Point South Park and even spaces like Vernon Mall.
Its primary role, however, will be to help organize entertainment—such as movies, theater and music–and ensure the parks are maintained.
It will also operate as a forum for residents to ask questions about items such as dog runs or children’s playgrounds—and work with city/state officials to get answers.
The Hunters Point Parks Conservancy represents an expansion of Friends of Gantry Plaza State Park, a group that has been in existence for 15 years, which has over the years worked with the police to combat crime, organized movies and helped maintain the plant life in the park.
However, with the opening of Hunters Point South Park in August, there was a need for its expansion and the reconfiguration of the group.
Furthermore, the new park is operated by the city, while Gantry Plaza is operated by the state.
Therefore, a Friends of Hunters Point South Park was recently formed, with the main purpose of working with city officials who oversee that park.
Frank Raffaele, who owns Coffeed at 37-18 Northern Blvd., has been the driving force by Friends of Hunters Point South Park.
“It’s a jewel of a park and we want to make the most of it,” Raffaele, who is opening a concession in the park in April, said.
However, instead of having two detached “friends” groups, Raffaele and community leaders believed it made sense to bring both of them together under one umbrella organization and create the Hunter Point Parks Conservancy.
“We are taking an existing group and expanding it with new people and new blood,” said Bill Bylewski the president of Friends of Gantry as well as the united group. “There are a lot of energetic people with new ideas and that is what we hoped for.”
The restructured group has formed a number of committees as it moves ahead.
It consists of 30 members (20 active) and has recently form five committees: an events committee; fundraising committee; marketing committee; mission committee; and bylaws & structure committee.
The committee that is the most popular is the events committee, with 14 members.
The Hunters Point Parks Conservancy is likely to be more active when it comes to event planning in the new park, while more focused on maintenance when it comes to Gantry Plaza State Park, Bylewski said. In Gantry Plaza many of the events are now organized by the big companies, he said.
Raffaele, whose company plans to help fund the umbrella group, said the organization seeks corporate sponsors.
He has a vision of putting an ice-skating rink in the new park—something that Joe Conley from Community Board 2 has also called for.
To join group, e-mail: [email protected]