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Ground Breaking Ceremony Kicks off $1.4 Million Park Upgrade

Photo: QueensPost

Sept. 14, 2012 By Bill Parry

An official groundbreaking ceremony took place at Lou Lodati Park (Skillman Ave. and 43rd Street) Friday morning to mark its long awaited renovation.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer shared the podium with Queens Borough President Helen Marshall in front of a crowd of P.S. 150 students and members of the Sunnyside United Dog Society (SUDS), who were accompanied by their dogs.

The renovation was largely the result of a grass-roots campaign by SUDS—and its leader Rick Duro—who pushed for nearly a decade for a dog run and park upgrades. The group’s goal became one of Van Bramer’s campaign promises two and a half years ago.

“I keep on my desk a list of things that I pledged during my campaign,” the councilman said.

However, Van Bramer added that the renovation was never just about installing a dog run.

“When SUDS first approached me…, it spurred in me the desire to fix the entire park,” he said, adding that the revamp will be a great asset to the community.

The $1.4 million cost of the project has been split between Van Bramer and Marshall’s offices.

JoAnne Amagrande, the chief of staff of Queens Parks and Recreation, said the project should be completed by next August if the city experiences a mild winter.

For details on the plans, click here for a previous story.

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28 Comments

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Mike

I’m a kid who tries to play baseball here but it’s just impossible! If we wanted to use the ACTUAL basebll field we’d need a permit because there’s always people playing volleyball and soccer. I don’t care about race. It doesn’t matter to me. But some of these soccer players don’t respect the park. They use the trees as toilettes even though the bathroom are 200 feet away! Then their kids ride their scooters and bikes all around the small corner of the park we have to play. We ask them to move, but they don’t and if one gets hit it’s OUR fault. AND the trees they people use as toilettes? That’s where we’re forced to play.

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Kid

Sounds like less room for us kids to play baseball. We’re already shoved away into the corner where the baskeball courts are. We can’t even play a real game because there’s no room!

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Dog Lover / Not A Dog Owner

Chris – you keep saying the same comments whenever this dog run gets mentioned. Your point is a mute point now, as the park is being renovated and you DON’T hear the dogs in the lower field any more because they are not there any more being the construction started. The teenagers are not allowed in the park after a certain hour because they were drinking beer, beer bottles breaking, smoking weed, getting into fights with each other and in general being a disturbance to the public. If you have kids, it is up to you and other parents like myself to come up with fun events in the neighborhood for the kids to partake in! Please feel free to brainstorm an event. Don’t sit back and wait for others to do it for the kids! Step up and start a kids event in Sunnyside!

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Krissi

I’m so excited for the renovation!!!

and a special thanks to SUDS for their hard work on the dog park!!! It is very needed!!!

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Ruben

HEy Chris, there’s a difference with you taking your family to the park and taking your family, your cousins, your aunts, your neighbors, the people in your church and your kids friends EVERY Sat. and Sun. completely taking over a park. Don’t defend these people, they are selfish and that’s the bottom line. They could be going to Astoria park where there is MORE than enough room for all their volleyball/soccer games.

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WHINING BABY

WAAAA!! The Parks Department spent $5 on a yard of dirt, WAAAA!!

WAAAA!! They pulled those kids out of class for 2 whole hours for a photo-op even though they got nothing out of it. WAAAA!! None of those kids learned anything about socialization, politics or not being afraid of dogs in their own neighborhood! WAAAA!! It was pure selfishness on the part of our local politicians! WAAAA!!

WAAAA!! I am so angry about this because I did nothing to be a part of it! WAAAA!! Why can’t things just go back to the way it was when I was a kid?!? WAAAA!!!

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Sunnyside Native

It is fine to debate and voice & express our own opinions, but Oppressed Masses intentions are to complain, antagonize and be negative in general. One of the statements that Jimmy Van Bramer made on Friday at the ground breaking ceremony was that happy dogs, lead to happy owners. Dog runs by lends itself as another outlet where people can socialize together and what is better than a happy community? Sunnyside’s dog community is growing year over year. We have already seen in Brooklyn (by McCarren Park) and at least one neighborhood in Manhattan by potential home buyers that a neighborhood was deemed more desirable when it had a dog run. The neighborhoods only continually improved after the introduction of the dog run and non-dog owners alike enjoyed their new addition to their respective neighborhoods. It raises the value of the homes for whomever owns. On a separate note, for what it’s worth, the parents DID have to sign off on a consent form for their child to go to the park that morning for the 40 minutes that they were there. I am stating this fact because I know how VERY concerned Oppressed Masses is in regards to the well being of these children. The kids had a great time at the ground breaking event and they will get to benefit from the new softball field, basket ball courts and dog run if they have a dog. As far as trucking in the dirt, the truck driver that performed that job was paid for his work and in this economy, I am all about job creation. I guess Oppressed Masses doesn’t care about job creation. This is a wonderful, welcomed addition to our beautiful Sunnyside neighborhood and I can’t wait to see the new Lou Lodati Park be unveiled! 🙂

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Rick Duro

Not every school lesson has to be ‘Bloombergian’ in order for children to learn. School needs to be fun, exciting, hands on, an impromptu field trip to an ‘event’ is just that. Photo op, of course, and celebration of the park in which those kids will grow up. As a kid I was in a few of those shots and when I see the pics they bring back fun memories, this too will happen for a few of those children-TV, newspaper pic, etc

The Councilman and Borough President both deserve tremendous praise for funding this project that will benefit the neighborhood for all for years to come.

Some of that funding that is going toward the dog run will help create a beautiful green space surrounding much of it. Money well spent.

From the design I have seen, the back trees appear to be fenced in, so nowhere to now hide, urinate and bleach.

Every project does the same little ceremony. its dirt.

The goal is indeed to transform the park, and I think it will. Why not @ least try? The people working on this project from Qns Parks know what they are doing, Joanne Amagrande is really good @ what she does.

It’s ok for folks to disagree about a project, debate is always good, OM:)

The Community Board voted unanimously for it in June 2010, not a single member of the community came out to speak against it. That tells you the neighborhood will be better for it. There’s space for all to enjoy.

Cheers.

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chris salamone

I’ve played hockey in Skillman park as well as softball where was all this money to fix the park when i was younger. I see dogs in the park at all hours of the night and the sign clearly states no dogs. but i guess that’s fine for the dog owners. but yet a kid could be sitting in the park after 10 and get a ticket. i live right across from the park and can see evrything out my window and i hear the dogs all the time. Its great to get the park fixed but why does everything have to do w/ race in this neighborhood. as per rubens comment i am spanish and i live in sunnyside on 42nd and skillman i would love for you to tell me my family and my spanish friends 2 not play in the park

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Oppressed Masses

RD,

Some corrections: The school children were obviously at the park to be used as props for purposes of satisfying the egos of local politicians. Were lesson plans developed and teaching points made in this impromptu visit to the photo opt? I don’t think you actually know. From my observation of the event, the kids were walked over to the park, lined up for the picture taking, and went back to the school. I didn’t see any evidence of a lesson being conducted. I also question whether parental consent was obtained as required by law for use of the children’s images for purposes of the publicity photo.

The placement of the two dog runs means that the basketball courts will be along the back wall nearby the trees. This is the same area of the park commentators here claim is being used as toilet facilities doused with bleach. Do you really think the older children and teens will be able to use the basketball courts in the most isolated area of the park? It would have better if the dog runs were placed back there. There is nothing about this project that will stop people from going to the bathroom back where the basketball courts will now be.

My information on the relative cost of creating a dog park and renovating the rest of the area was obtained in discussion with the two park supervisors who have spent the last week sitting in official cars parked on the asphalt all day long when the only activity taking place was trucking in the dirt for the ceremony and a Vac All cleaning out the sewer drains.

My point about the dirt is that it is a waste of money to truck dirt to place on the asphalt only for purposes of taking pictures of local politicians. Why couldn’t these folks stand on the asphalt holding shovels and pick axes without the expense of trucking in dirt? The ceremonial pictures I have seen include materials that are already at the location of the construction. What the dirt does signify is the waste of money being spent on this project.

The most common misconception is that the nature and character of the park will change with the renovation. There is no basis for this wish.

Best regards.

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Ruben

fix the park up all you want…your problem is all the latinos taking over on sat and sun. I know my people…right now they’re saying “oh how nice of them to fix our park.”

it is the truth and you know it.

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John K. Wilson

Met Rick Duro one night at Sunnyside Pizza. Seemed like a solid guy. I’ve read here of the years of hard work by he & his group and was impressed. Congratulations and thanks.

As for Mike Novak, we may differ in our politics; but,so what? He has character. The comment above is 100% right on!!
(I’m still looking forward to that beer, Mike!)

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Rick Duro

Some Order:

We’ve been cleaning up after ourselves in the park (and everyone else who doesn’t) from the beginning, we’ll continue our good work.

Dog park closes when the park does. We’ve been in there until 10pm for 11 years w/ no compliants.

We will be in charge of our taking care of the Run, hopefully the community @ large will take as great care of the rest of the space:) if so, we will have a gem of a space.

re: OM’s thoughts.

As a teacher, I think it’s a great experience to involve children in that kind of ceremony. Experience is the best teacher. It’s a good govt/community teaching point/lesson, especially since most of this improved park is now devoted to their formative years growing up in the neighborhood.

It’s not really 2 dog runs. The space intended to be used has never changed/grown, it’s always been that size, no suprises for anyone here. We just took the space set aside for us and carved a small dog run into the area for folks with lil’ dogs, many runs do the same thing.

From what we were told the dog run isn’t the majority of the project cost. Where are you getting your info?

Lastly, the dirt? Ceremonial, it’s what every big city project does, must be squash all traditions and photo ops? hahaha!

Thanks everyone for the kudos!

Cheers,

Rick

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Mike Novak

WOW! The comments made here by the Anonymous Cowards have sunk to a new low. The community is getting a park makeover! Instead of being grateful, all I hear is hate and bigotry. Shame on those of you who hide behind a false name. If you genuinely feel the way you do, why not post with your REAL NAMES? What are you afraid of? I think its time that the Sunnyside Post cuts out the cowards and haters by having posters verify their identity. Then this can become a proper community-based forum instead of the pile of dogshit that cowards have made it into.

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Some Order

Mr. Duro,

just wanted to make sure, will there be some type of curfew for the dog run in the evening? Pointing it out so there won’t be any future evening problems, such as barking and stuff.

also after its built will there actually be daily clean up’s at the park.

Today they cleaned up the park like crazy and left it spotless, hopefully that happens everyday.

thanks

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Get over yourself Oppressed Masses!!!

First, I have been present in this park when the soccer players at 7:30AM on a Sunday morning were urinating on the trees on the back wall, in front of their own little girls. I have seen them throw bleach on their excrement in order to cover the smell. I have known dogs that have been taken ill and ended with $1200 vet bills for skin lesions received walking by those trees. Can you imagine what a kid could bring home just playing around those trees? Those are things we don’t hear about.

I myself, have been cut on the foot because of broken glass laying around the field. I have watched in disgust as soccer players hung around a grammer school soft ball game with little girls, ogling them as they made plays. That takes care of the “quality ” of the park as of right now.

As to children being brought in for a “photo op” that is completely out of bounds. Children should be allowed to see how their government works and should be allowed to see how a great idea and preservence can do something wonderful for a community. Get over yourself and your negativity and put some positive joy in your life. Guess what, money is made to be spent for the betterment of the community and that is exactly what happened here, like it or not. The kids were on their lunch hour and accompanied by both the principal and the assistant principal along with their teacher. It took no more than a 20 minutes.

To address the ” concerned parent” who is a supposed dog walker, you can’t be taking a very careful view of your charges when walking, if you see “nothing ” wrong with that field. It is a disgrace, it’s dirty, it’s loaded with human excrement, and God knows what else that is left over from the
“weekend soccer and volley ball ” matches. I have yet to see a neighborhood kid being allowed to play on the field when these ” teams’ show up. They bring their food and leave garbage for the rats to eat at night. They gamble and do drugs, not to mention the myriad of beer bottles left to be collected on Monday morning. I am for one am glad that the park is being redone, so that we can now call it OUR community park.

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Get over yourself Oppressed Masses!!!

First, I have been present in this park when the soccer players at 7:30AM on a Sunday morning were urinating on the trees on the back wall, in front of their own little girls. I have seen them throw bleach on their excrement in order to cover the smell. I have known dogs that have been taken ill and ended with $1200 vet bills for skin lesions received walking by those trees, all because they unkowningly allowed their dogs walk there. Can you imagine what a kid could bring home just playing around those trees? Those are things we don’t hear about.

I myself have been cut on the foot because of broken glass laying around the field. I have watched in disgust as soccer players hung around a grammer school soft ball game with little girls, ogling them as they made plays. That takes care of the “quality ” of the park as of right now.

As to children being brought in for a “photo op” that is completley out of bounds. Children should be allowed to see how their government works and should be allowed to see how a great idea and preservence can do something wonderful for a community. Get over yourself and your negativity and put some positive joy in your life. Guess what, money is made to be spent for the betterment of the community and that is exactly what happened here, like it or not.

To address the ” concerned parent” who is a supposed dog walker, you can’t be taking a very carefull view of you charges when walking if you see “nothing ” wrong with that field. It is a disgrace, it’s dirty, it’s loaded with human excrement, and

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Dog Lover / Not A Dog Owner

Also, my Daughter just pointed out that we should never hire Concerned Parent to walk our future dog when we are at work and the kids are at school, being she/he puts dogs behind money and things. Gotta love kids for being so insightful! Out of the mouths of babes! Really, who would hire this person to walk their dog if they knew they valued that dog behing money and things?

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Dog Lover / Not A Dog Owner

Oppressed Masses comments regarding this dog run usually appear to be negative, so please do not take it personally Mr. Duro. Kudos to you and the entire S.U.D.S. team in being triumphant here in this endeavor! I am not a dog owner (YET), but I am a dog lover and I commend you for all your efforts, along with efforts of the others, in pushing forward to make this happen! Jimmy Van Bramer is a wonderful person who always try to accurately assess a situation and follow through on his promises, which he commented on today. The majority of people in Sunnyside are behind this project! There will always be haters. It’s just a fact of the matter. The finest neighborhoods in Manhattan have beautiful dog runs, so why should Sunnyside not enjoy the same benefits. Don’t we (Sunnyside) deserve it? Aren’t we (Sunnyside) worthy of reaping the same benefits in our little enclave of our neighborhood? We were rated the #3 as the best neighborhood to live within the 5 Boroughs. Sunnyside was referred to in New York Magazine as a ‘hidden gem’ and we should rise up in all aspects to meet those standards. Our kids can’t wait for the new softball field and when the dog run is complete, we will most likely adopt a dog from a shelter and join you all at the new Sunnyside dog run! Congratulations! Job Well Done!

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Oppressed Masses

Was it a good use of the academic day for children to be present during the school day for a photo op with local politicians and dog owners? And, was it a good use of public money to bring in the pile of dirt as a stage prop for the same politicians and dog owners? The pile of dirt shown in the picture is not from the park but rather was brought there during the week for the sole purpose of this picture taking event. The pile of dirt signifies the spendthrift thinking permeating this entire project (not one but two dog parks). While the entire lower park is scheduled to be resurfaced, most of the $1.4 million will be spent on the Van Bramer Dog Park.

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Rick Duro

One other thing, because the NYC Parks Dept gets such a barely visible slice of the NYC Budget, they take a 30% chunk of the funds from projects like this for ‘administrative costs’ to cover the basics in order to cover their day to day expenses. Thus, the actual project will cost closer to $1MM.

Our Parks Dept is woefully underfunded.

RD

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Rick Duro

The park wasn’t fine CP. You obviously didn’t use it very much. It’s in TERRIBLE condition. There are cracks that run the length of the park, walls crumbling, fences falling apart, clogged sewers and the trees were constantly drowned in urine from boozed up ballplayers and then the BLEACH they would pour over it to try and hide their mess. I guess that is fine for you?

The language that people speak has nothing to do with anything. If they were purple and green from Mars that is still not a way to behave in public.

People are first here. Some people choose to recreate with their children, others with a ball of some kind, WE choose to recreate with our dogs. Dog parks are as much about people as they are about dogs.

Your kids will enjoy an improved park, the funds are to fix the whole thing. So when your kid plays on a new basketball court, a new softball diamond or kicks a soccer ball there you can thank SUDS for their part in this project.

Several years ago $900K went to fix up the playground you use on Skillman, the upper part of the park closer to 41st street, I guess that was a mistake too?

Be thankful & grateful that your ‘hood is being improved

RD

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Concerned Parent

One AND four tenths million dollars!!!!!! What a waste of money.

As Suze Orman might say:

People first (even if they speak Spanish)

Then money

Then things

Then dogs.

I walk dogs and live across the street from the park. The park was fine as it was. It was always well used.

This is big mistake.

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Rick Duro

I couldn’t be there today, I teach and just could not take a day off this early in the year, but, I was there in spirit!

SUDS #1 goal was to get a dog run built in Sunnyside and today was a day we have been working toward for the better part of a decade.

Our 2nd goal was to get enough funding to fix the entire park and thanks to Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Joe Conley & Community Board #2, the Queens Parks Dept (big thanks to Joanne Amagrande!) and the members of SUDS (past and present) we did it!

The new, improved Lodati Park will be a great benefit to everyone in our neighborhood, be they a basketball/softball/soccer/volleyball player or a dog owner.

I can’t tell you how happy I am that we are FINALLY @ this point! The sweat, the tears, the highs and lows over the years. SUDS always did what it does best, come together, work hard, get the word out and we perservered. I’m a pretty determined guy and don’t give up easily when I know something is right/good.

Thank you to all who believed in us and our hard work ethic. Thank you to the original 2001 SUDSters for creating this wonderful community w/i Sunnyside!

All I want now is for that Run to be done with enough time let the few remaining SUDS dogs walk thru first, they are Founding Pups of SUDS.

Cheers,

Rick Duro
SUDS, Pres.
http://www.sudsmutts.com

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Ruben

now if we can find a way to keep that mob of spanish people from taking over the fields we might actually be able to have community sports !

I remember a time when people actually played baseball in this park.

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Jean

A GREAT day for Sunnyside! Thank you Jimmy and Ms. Marshall!!
It means so much to our kids, community and dogs!

GO SUNNYSIDE!!!

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LMK

Excellent! A giant step towards something truly good & pure in this world. And I love seeing politicians following through on their promises! Go Jimmy! Go Helen! Love the pic!

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