Astoria Heights Park Hosts Its 4th Park Day

Friends of Astoria Heights Park hosts 4th Its My Park, May 16, 2015, 9am

Astoria Heights Playground, Astoria, NY

volunteers from Park Day 2014

Volunteers from Park Day 2014


On May 16, the Friends of Astoria Heights Park will host Its My Park.
On the upper terrace of the park, three activities will take place:
Basketball clinic for children ages 5-8 will be 9-9:45am
Learn to Ride by Bike New York and NYC Park Department from 10-12pm
Family yoga by a teacher from The Yoga Room at 11am

On the lower level in the playground,
Mural completion 9:30am

More information about activities

Learn to Ride—Kids is a free group class for children who are ready to ditch their training wheels and pedal a two-wheeler for the first time. With our safe, easy, effective method and experienced instructors, kids will learn how to balance, pedal, start, stop, and steer a bicycle. Most students get the hang of it in one session, but even if they don’t, parents will leave equipped with an easy, low-stress technique that will have their kids riding independently in no time.


About Bike New York
Bike New York is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and New York City’s leading proponent of cycling as a practical, sustainable, and healthy means of transportation and recreation.
They offer free bike education programs throughout the five boroughs, whereby they teach kids and adults how to ride a bike, and how to do so safely and confidently in the city. In 2014 alone, they taught bike skills to 16,000 New Yorkers. Bike New York organizes numerous annual events, including the TD Five Boro Bike Tour (the world’s biggest charitable bike ride), Bike Expo New York, and smaller regional and community rides.

About The Yoga Room
In 2003 The Yoga Room opened the doors of its former Steinway Street location in Astoria. Since then we have expanded into two beautiful, large spaces in both Astoria and Long Island City. Each location features three large studios to accommodate over 100 classes per week, as well as treatment rooms for our acupuncture and massage services. They have a wide variety of class offerings including hot yoga and hot Pilates, Iyengar-based alignment classes, vinyasa flow, prenatal and mommy & me yoga, and even our ballet infused Barre Blast Pilates and Aerial yoga.

About the mural project
The Friends of Astoria Heights Park in collaboration with local schools, are creating a mural, conceptualized by Artist, Lenore Koppelman.
Mural Project made possible with support from Partnership for Parks, a joint program of City Parks Foundation and NYC Parks. The Capacity Fund grant is funded in part by Parks Equity Initiative of the leadership of Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito.

Artist's Rendering of Mural

Artist’s Rendering of Mural

About the Park
Astoria Heights Park is one of 35 sites targeted in NYC Parks’ Community Parks Initiative, a multi-faceted investment in the smaller public parks that are located in New York City’s densely populated and growing neighborhoods. The Community Parks Initiative is NYC Parks’ first major equity initiative. It will invest $130 million capital dollars and also bring enhanced programming, maintenance, and community partnership building to community parks serving high-need communities. The initiative will engage New Yorkers in rebuilding local parks, create new reasons to get out and get fit, and reconnect communities to the green spaces right outside their doorsteps.

About the New Bulletin Board
Astoria Heights Park installed a new Bulletin Board on April 17, sponsored in part by a grant from Parks and Trails, New York

Lynn Kennedy, lauren Biniaris with Senator Gianaris, Assemblywoman Simotas, and Councilman Costantinides

Lynn Kennedy, Lauren Biniaris with Senator Gianaris, Assemblywoman Simotas, and Councilman Costantinides

The statewide advocacy group Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) awarded almost $16,000 in Growing the Grassroots capacity building grants to seven not-for-profit park and trail organizations. The groups will use the funds to increase organizational visibility, generate community support, grow membership, and attract additional volunteers. The awards are supported, in part, by the visionary philanthropist, Merryl H. Tisch.
PTNY’s program is unique in that it awards funding for activities not normally covered by existing grants. PTNY’s Growing the Grassroots capacity building grants focus are designed to help park and trail not-for-profits develop and strengthen the skills, processes, and resources that will allow them to thrive and better foster the expansion, stewardship, and promotion of New York’s parks and trails. New to the program this year were awards to undertake small park or trail capital projects that will raise the visibility and capacity of park and trail not-for-profits.
“Hundreds of not-for-profit organizations are working to build, protect, and promote our state’s parks and trails which contribute so much to our economy and quality of life,” said Robin Dropkin, Parks & Trails New York Executive Director. “With our Growing the Grassroots grant program, we can help propel these groups to new levels, enabling them to leverage more private funding and marshal more volunteer power to aid their stewardship efforts.”
Since it initiated the awards program in 2009, PTNY has assisted 59 organizations in 36 New York counties. For more information on Parks & Trails NY go to their website at

Special Thanks for donations from:
Bike Stop,
Tony’s Bicycle,
Sorriso Italian Pork Store
Bagels on the Ave,
Dunkin Donuts
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Spring 2014 It’s My Park Day, Our Community Builds Momentum

The Spring It’s My Park Day event took place on May 18th at Astoria Heights Playground. Over eighty volunteers came out to help our park.  It was a beautiful day, mainly because so many people came out to express their support. Yes, the benches look better freshly painted. Yes, the tree beds look great with fresh mulch. That said, by far the best thing about the day has been the way our community comes together to help our cherished park.

People love parks. This truth is what drives us all to spend so much time in the park and out of the confines of the urban environment. Especially in the city, where we tend to lose ourselves in the concrete jungle, our parks mean even more to our sanity. Parks make for healthier communities. Parks allow us to find peace and beauty, calm and relaxation, inspiration, fitness and fun, and connection with our neighbors. At parks, we connect to nature and we connect to others. We find our truer selves in nature and we find ourselves in connection with others, too.

It’s My Park Day, and all of the events that Friends of Astoria Heights Park has hosted since last Fall, have been attempts at drawing our community together through our shared love of our park. A stronger community lifts up our Park, and an improved Park helps bring all of us closer together. At the recent It’s My Park Day event, it was truly inspiring to see young and old from so many diverse cultures working together on a common goal.

One Astoria Heights Park goer recently told me that the park is where she feels she has family. In her experience, coming from another country and leaving behind her family, living here in Astoria was isolating initially. The relationships she’s developed at our park have allowed her to discover a sense of family again.

This idea extends to the larger park culture now. We’re becoming a real community now. Sharing our ideas, talents and energies, celebrating our differences and our commonalities, we’re becoming part of the identity of our own neighborhood, and this is genuinely empowering. Look at the momentum we have, the changes we’re bringing about by joining forces together.

Seeing people of  all ages hauling cement bricks on It’s My Park day was really exciting and moving.  The train of cement bricks being passed from hand to hand to the  pick up truck was meant a great deal to me— everyone was in sync and it was truly magical to witness just how much can get done so easily and even joyfully when people work together.

Another great moment for me was painting together with Senator Gianaris and Councilman Costantinides.

The Friends of Astoria Heights Park is blessed to have tremendous grass roots momentum and meaningful support from our elected officials.

Astoria Heights Park is experiencing the first stage of a renaissance. The pacing of change can be challenging at times and the progress might seem slow, but there are genuine improvements happening after decades of stasis. We have real momentum now.

I remember growing up with easy access to beautiful outdoor spaces and my need to have that in my life and for my son motivates me.  My strong connection to nature pushes me to want a greener park for our community. I am grateful to be part of a community that has such strength, passion and creativity. We can truly make this and any park amazing with that kind of energy and commitment. I have met people in the park and through advocating for the park who I never thought I would meet.  The experience of getting to know others and spending time together, especially around a common goal so meaningful to me, has been very rewarding.  To witness all the volunteers, particularly the children getting involved, demonstrates that people are starting to take ownership of Astoria Heights Park, and this will make all of our progress in the park more sustainable over time.

I look forward to seeing everybody again and hopefully many new faces as well throughout the Summer and at It’s My Park Day this Fall.

And a special thank you to the Parks Department and local politicians who are helping us make a difference in our Park.

Photography by Adam W. Cohen.