By Eric Yun
Hope still remains for additional funding for a public park at St. Saviour’s in Maspeth.
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has agreed to fund at least one community project along the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. The DEC selected the City Parks Foundation to hold public hearings and a vote to determine which projects the community favors.
Almost 700 people expressed their preferences in a vote on December 1 and 2. Among the 22 projects considered was a public park at St. Saviour’s on Rust Street and 58th Street.
Maspeth residents came out in force to vote for the park. Funding the park at the former church site came in fourth, behind improving the Dutch Kills Basin Acquisition in Brooklyn, wetlands rehabilitation that surround Newtown Creek and creating a Greenpoint Boathouse and Environmental Education Center.
The City Parks Foundation said the DEC has the final say as to which projects will get funding, and the department will not automatically pick the top vote getter. While the St. Saviour’s project was not number one, money could still be allocated to build a park.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and Borough President Helen Marshall have been strong supporters of building a park at the site, and together have allocated $2 million for the project.
“The high turnout from Maspeth … proves how desperate this community is for more green space,” said Christina Wilkinson, president of the Newtown Historical Society. “I am confident that the DEC will take into consideration the fact that our section of Newtown Creek is inaccessible for a number of reasons and will allocate a portion of the settlement money toward the St. Saviour’s project. But no matter what they decide, we remain motivated and will continue to work toward creation of a park at the site until it finally happens.”