Two allocations for improvements at the Queens Botanical Garden were announced last week by the Borough President’s Office.
A $3.15 million designation from capital funds will be used primarily to upgrade the Flushing garden’s pathways. An additional $114,764 will be allocated to pay for the design of a geothermal heating well.
Susan Lacerte, executive director of the QBG, said on Monday that the pathways will look different in the future. The old asphalt at the entrance plaza, known as the oak allee, will be replaced with pavers, while other areas of the 39-acre garden will have a “fancier looking asphalt,” Lacerte said.
In addition, drainage will be improved and will be made strong enough to handle maintenance vehicles and equipment.
Lacerte is particularly excited about the planned installation of an automatic irrigation system that will provide water from an existing well to the northeastern end of the garden, where most of the displays are located. “It will be labor-saving and will provide water in parts of the garden where we didn’t have it,” she said.
The project also includes an updated College Point Boulevard entrance to the QBG that will feature a stepped ramp to the bridge that crosses College Point Boulevard and a new entrance plaza that will be used as a gathering area for school tour groups.
The total cost of the project is just under $5 million, with the City Council kicking in $1.16 million and the Mayor’s Office $675,000. Borough President Helen Marshall allocated the rest.
The additional funding for the well will be used to eventually add a new geothermal heating unit for the visitor center, near the oak allee. “When the new center was built seven years ago, two wells were installed, but one of them is now clogged and cannot be permanently fixed,” the director said. “The other one still operates.”
She noted that there were attempts to unclog the well, but because the area was previously a landfill and filled with clay, it was only a temporary measure. “They originally did testing nearby, but it didn’t show up,” Lacerte added.
Marshall called the QBG “an oasis of natural beauty” that offers visitors “views of inspiring gardens along with innovative educational programs and compelling demonstrations of environmental stewardship.”
The QBG originated at the 1939 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows Park, called Gardens on Parade. It was moved to its current site, on the other side of College Point Boulevard, to make room for the 1964 World’s Fair. It borders Flushing Meadows on the east end of the park.
There is free admission now through March 31. The facility is closed on Mondays. There is no parking through March, except for special events.
Admission the rest of the year is $4 for adults,$3 for seniors and $2 for children. Parking is $5.50.
The garden is located at 43-50 Main St.