June 10, By Christian Murray
Sunnyside, NY: There is going to be plenty for Sunnysiders to bark about this Saturday.
Lou Lodati/Tornsey Park, which has been undergoing renovation for the past year, is re-opening June 15.
The upgraded park will now include a dog run—for both big and small dogs—as well as new planting beds throughout the park.
The Parks Department has also resurfaced the existing asphalt–which will contain separate areas for a softball field, volleyball/ecuavolley and basketball courts.
The revamp is 2 to 3 months ahead of schedule. The Parks Department broke ground in September and anticipated at the time that it would take a year to complete.
The renovation was largely the result of a grass-roots campaign by the Sunnyside United Dog Society (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 Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s campaign promises when he ran for office three and a half years ago.
“It is a big project for me and the completion of the first park project I have funded,” Van Bramer said. “I was proud to get funding for it within six months of being in office and getting the Queens Borough President to help fund it too. It will be enormously gratifying to see it open and to cut the ribbon.”
The dog-run advocates, who formed SUDS in 2001, have had many setbacks in pursuit of their dream over the years. Their initial design plans were voted down by the community board, and then when the amended plans were finally approved and the funds allocated in 2007—-the city budget cuts railroaded them.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am that we are finally at this point, “ Rick Duro, the leader of SUDS, said recently. “The sweat, the tears, the highs and lows over the years.”
Van Bramer said the revamp is comprehensive. “We’ve done the entire field and include green space and plantings that look nice,” he said. “The park will no longer look like an asphalt jungle, and it also be a lot safer since it has been resurfaced.”
The revamp comes at a cost of $1.4 million and was funded through allocations from Van Bramer and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.