“They feel like they are not answerable to the community. We have been trying to improve this park for years.”
“You take your life into your own hands running the fields in there."
Park users say the tennis courts in Charles Park, and other park features, are dangerous due to a lack of basic maintenance. Local residents have long accused the National Park Service's Gateway National Recreation Area of ignoring the upkeep of the park.
After years of hearing promises and placating answers, Howard Beach residents that have long made use of Frank M. Charles Park finally thought federal funding would became available to fix the park’s dilapidated tennis courts, baseball fields and make other improvements. Some residents say has not yet happened, though a representative from Gateway National Recreation Area said the money is in hand and on its way, according to The Queens Chronicle.
Local residents have long accused Gateway, which the park sits in, of ignoring the upkeep of Charles Park.
But in March, a community meeting was conducted where National Parks Service officials announced an appropriation of $200,000 that would be spent immediately on park repairs. Officials also vowed to form a new partnership that would ensure the community’s only green space no longer plays second fiddle to other priorities.
But those who use Charles Park regularly and live in the community say that has been just another in a long line of empty promises.
“This park is the only green space we have in this community,” said Dorothy McCloskey, director of the Friends of Charles Park Committee. “I think the National Parks Service can do a lot better. There’s a great deal of property that’s been neglected for a long time, and it’s a shame.”
McCloskey said the talk during the March meeting of an increased communication between Gateway and the community has not come to pass.
“They feel like they are not answerable to the community,” she said. “We have been trying to improve this park for years.”
Queens Chronicle - July 15, 2010 - by Bryan Yurcan
Queens Chronicle - July 10, 2010 - by Lee Landor
Interactive Journalism - December 2, 2009