July 10, 2014 By Christian Murray
Two Woodside parks and Thalia Spanish Theatre are about to receive plenty of city funds–following the 2015 budget that was passed by the city council late last month.
Windmuller Park is going to receive a $500,000 upgrade that will cover the cost of constructing a new skateboard area, as well as fixing up the bandshell that has been damaged by skateboarders performing their stunts there.
Councilman Van Bramer, who allocated the funding, said it has yet to be determined where in the park the skateboard area will be—but views the $500,000 expenditure as a “twofer” since it will benefit skateboarders as well as help preserve the condition of the bandshell.
The Councilman has also allocated $2 million for the complete renovation of Big Bush Park, which is located behind the Big Six Towers in Woodside. He was unable to elaborate on the details of the upgrade, since the Parks Department has yet to put a design together.
These expenditures follow past allocations he has made toward parks in the neighborhood. Lou Lodati Park underwent a $1.4 million overhaul that was completed last June, while Thomas P. Noonan Playground is currently undergoing a $2.2 million upgrade.
As part of the budget, the city council has allocated an additional $5 million to hire 80 additional Park Enforcement Patrol officers across New York City, whose role will be to ensure that the public abides by park rules.
Van Bramer said that he would make sure this district got its fair share of PEP officers—and said that he would want PEP officers at Windmuller and Doughboy Park among other Sunnyside/Woodside park spaces.
Local residents have often complained that Windmuller Park is a hotspot for rowdy teenagers, and have often called on the 108 Police Precinct to have a much greater presence there.
Meanwhile, Sunnyside Gardens Park, for the first time in years, did not receive any city funds, with the departure of former Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Over the course of the past eight years, Quinn allocated in excess of $130,000 of taxpayer funds to the private park.
This budget season, Van Bramer was able to secure $4.5 million in funding for the renovation and expansion of Thalia Spanish Theatre, which is located at 41-17 Greenpoint Avenue.
Van Bramer said the funding has a number of benefits.
“It is tight quarters in the theater and it has never been refurbished,” Van Bramer said. Furthermore, “the theater is an important anchor for Greenpoint Avenue,” referring to the benefits the upgrade will bring to the commercial area.
Van Bramer said Thalia is the only [bilingual] Hispanic theater in Queens and it is important that it gets a makeover. The funds will be used to help the theater double its capacity from 75 to 150, and is likely to result in the construction of an additional story.
The whole front will be redone that will include a new lobby and new façade.
Meanwhile, the graffiti cleanup program (including the anti-graffiti hotline) that covers the main streets and avenues in Sunnyside (and a portion of Woodside) will continue—stemming from grants to Sunnyside Shines and the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce.
Furthermore, many Woodside streets will continue to be kept clean through the funding of The Doe Fund, a non-profit group that hires former felons and homeless people to clean the streets, in an effort to help them rebuild their lives.
The Doe Fund will continue to hire workers to maintain the streets along Roosevelt Avenue (from 51st Street to 61st Street), 61st Street (from Roosevelt to 39th Avenue) and Woodside Avenue (from 58th Street to 60th Street), including plazas and the surrounding areas. This will be the third year that Van Bramer has brought the program to Woodside.
Meanwhile, the St. Pats for All parade–that draws thousands of people to Skillman Avenue in March– will receive city funding yet again.
Other budget items of note in Sunnyside/Woodside:
- More than $200,000 has been allocated toward security upgrades (primarily for the installation of internal/external cameras) at the Sunnyside and Woodside branch libraries
- Woodside on the Move will be receiving $40,000 for its concert series in Windmuller Park, its tenant/housing project and adult literacy programming.
- St Pats for All to receive $8,500 in funding ($3,500 from Van Bramer and $5,000 through Councilman Daniel Dromm)
- United 40s Civic Association (a Sunnyside/Woodside residents advocacy group) to receive $5,000
- Sunnyside Community Services to receive, among other items, $40,000 for youth services
- Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce to receive $60,000 for the Sunnyside/Woodside graffiti cleanup program as well as for special events and for its website/publicity
- Sunnyside Shines: $5,000 for the purchase of new trash receptacles on Queens Blvd/Greenpoint Avenue and $27,500 to support graffiti removal work in the 26th Council District
- Thalia Spanish Theater programming: $8,500
- Northern Woodside Coalition, a civic organization that runs youth programs and various events, $3,500
- Variety Boys & Girls Club of Sunnyside/Woodside $5,000