New esplanade along MacNeil Park unveiled
by Benjamin Fang
Oct 29, 2019 | 1237 views | 0 0 comments | 115 115 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Seven years after Hurricane Sandy ravaged shorelines across Queens, the city has finally completed a major project to reconstruct the esplanade at Hermon A. MacNeil Park.

Last Thursday, elected officials joined the Parks Department and community leaders to cut the ribbon on a $5.4 million restoration project for the College Point green space.

The revitalized esplanade, spanning a quarter mile, now features a concrete retaining wall, an aluminum sea rail, fishing overlook, kayak launch, new seating areas, accessible ramps, paths and drains.

“These new amenities will enhance the waterfront experience,” said Queens Parks Commissioner Michael Dockett, who called it a “major overhaul.”

Dockett didn’t see the park in the aftermath of the hurricane, but was told it as “pretty terrible.”

“There was a lot of subsurface work to get it back to this level,” he said.

Borough President Melinda Katz, who allocated $2.3 million for the project, said in the first year after the superstorm, there wasn’t much done for affected communities.

“People were still out of their homes, parks had still not been rebuilt,” she said. “Money had not been allocated for the rebuilding of the shoreline.”

Impacted communities were brought together to figure out what their priorities were from College Point to the Rockaways, Katz said. They expressed what investments were needed, including funding to fix MacNeil Park.

“It is my hope we don’t have another storm like that, but unfortunately, it feels like we’re having a once-in-a-lifetime storm every year or so these days,” she said. “We need to make sure we respond better to that.”

Councilman Paul Vallone provided $1.7 million to the effort, while Mayor Bill de Blasio contributed the rest. Vallone said the project took years because it entailed reinforcing the entire waterfront.

The elected officials are looking to fund a second phase of the restoration project, which would add stadium seating to the esplanade, the councilman said.

“We obviously want to continue this and finish it,” Vallone said. “We want to connect the waterfront for all of northeast Queens.”

MacNeil Park, once known as Chisholm Park, is named after Hermon Atkins MacNeil, a College Point resident and nationally renowned sculptor who built the Flushing War Memorial.

“We look forward to generations of families that will be better off because of the work we’ve done,” Katz said.
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