Mission and Priorities

>OUR MISSION<
Friends of Astoria Heights Park is a group of neighbors who are committed to making Astoria Heights Park a  beautiful, clean, safe, fun and inspiring public space.

We are committed to building community awareness and engagement with Astoria Heights Park. Through teamwork with our neighbors, we are promoting appreciation, investment, community pride, and regular involvement in the Park that will contribute to its improvement and upkeep over time.

Also, to achieve our goals for Astoria Heights Park in a manner that is sustainable over time, we are partnering with elected officials, the New York City Parks Department, local schools, not-for-profits whose expertise and purposes align with ours, and a growing group of local businesses and organizations.

Finally, Astoria Heights Park serves a culturally and ethnically diverse neighborhood. Diversity is a blessing in our neighborhood and respect for diversity is a core value of our group . We aspire to work with all of our neighbors to make the Park a place where we gather to celebrate and demonstrate respect both for our common values and for our unique backgrounds and perspectives.

>OUR PARK, TODAY<
Astoria Heights Park is located between 45th Street and 46th Street and spans approximately 2/3 of the distance between 30th Avenue and 31st Avenue. It includes basketball and (recently renovated) handball courts at its South End, a huge paved square that has accommodations for a baseball “field” and installable tennis courts, and then a large playground at its North End primarily intended for young children that features several jungle gym sets and a small pool ideal for children and a water fountain, as well as public restrooms.

This park has enormous unrealized potential, but not because it is underutilized, which it surely is not. Especially throughout the Spring, Summer, and Fall, Astoria Heights Park is bustling with activity, with children of all ages and adults regularly taking advantage of its amenities and space. Teenagers and adults spontaneously organize cricket, soccer, and volleyball games in the large square, and there are structured baseball camps, too. On weekend mornings, a group of Asian neighborhood residents come together for Tai Chi. The lifeguard opens the pool at 10am and it stays full all day long when the weather is great.

However, the park has not been updated in a long time. With the exception of welcome recent renovations to the handball courts, Astoria Heights Park has many technical issues that require attention. To name a few core issues:

The concrete in the playground is buckling, making for regular tripping hazards for the very young children who play there.

The playground area has no child-safe gates, which is a hazard given the speedy traffic on adjacent streets. Parents are regularly seen running to catch up with toddlers who don’t realize their lives are in danger as they sprint towards the exits.

The drains in and around the playground are regularly blocked and backed up.

The erosion of soil along the West side of the playground area has rendered it a mound of dusty dirt. There is simply no grass there anymore and every rain storm brings a flow of dirt and mud underneath the benches and over the closeby drains. As this area is an incline, there are safety concerns with the trees here, especially those with exposed roots. This is an area that children love to play in, but it’s filthy.

Out-of-date playground equipment is located on top of interconnected rubber pieces, which are no longer particularly soft and which large gaps between them.

The playground area needs to be designed to create safe and separate play spaces for babies and toddlers,

The playground area is currently abused by people who use and sell drugs here.  The playground needs more police oversight to drive this activity away.

>OUR PRIORITIES<
As a matter of general principle, we are highly motivated volunteers intent on making Astoria Heights Park safer, more beautiful and more fun for everybody in our community.

First, this means tackling the core issues listed above, advocating for much-needed action to improve the safety and security of Astoria Heights Park through liaisons with local politicians, local police, and representatives of the New York City Parks Department.

Second, we understand that the only way to accomplish our overall goals over the long term is to build a sense of community around the upkeep and improvement of Astoria Heights Park. We want Friends of Astoria Heights Park to become an influential constituency for positive change in our neighborhood park. If the community rallies behind Astoria Heights Park, our efforts will be sustainable over time and we will achieve a bright future for this unique public space.

Community support initiatives involve creating opportunities for us to come together with neighbors and celebrate our Park, do good-works such as cleaning up, repainting, planting flowers, and (hopefully) implementing and maintaining our new mural. These events will bring us closer together, and build and expand the network of residents whose demonstrable care of the Park will attract the involvement of the city. The operative philosophy here is, “if we start building it, they will will come and help us finish building it.”

>OUR PARK, TOMORROW<
We see a beautiful and invigorating playground, with new interactive equipment laid out in a truly age-appropriate manner, a much greener space enclosed by child-proofed gates.  We see climbing walls and creative new climbing towers. We see a rubberized, multi-lane track around the huge paved space, and some portion of that pavement removed and replaced with a green field. We see Astoria Heights becoming a public space that residents of all ages and interests can regularly enjoy and visitors seek out based on its reputation for beauty, cleanliness, fun, and safety.

That and more will only be possible if part of the future of our neighborhood is a robust organization of volunteers who renew their love of Astoria Heights Park with real community action on a regular basis. Our volunteer work on behalf of the Park is not only a means to an end, it is an end in itself.

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