Elected officials and activists gathered on Sunday at the entrance to Willow Lake to honor late greenspace champion and Flushing Meadows Corona Park Conservancy founder Pat Dolan, renaming the trail leading through the wetland in the her honor.
Dolan was the president and creator of the conservancy that bears the park’s name, and a tireless champion of the lake and its many inhabitants.
“Pat Dolan defined the words ‘civic leader’ and ‘parks advocate,’” said Borough President Helen Marshall. “She was tireless and relentless in her pursuit of all things that made her neighbors, community and borough better today and well-prepared for a new generation.Today, we have the privilege of honoring her life and legacy with an honor that will sustain our memory of her for generations to come.”
The ever-humble Dolan would have shied away from all the attention and good will, many said.
“I have to say I don’t think Pat would be happy today,” said Assemblyman Mike Simanowitz (D-Flushing), who encountered Dolan regularly as a member of former Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn’s staff. “I don’t think Pat wanted anything named after her. She wanted to be sitting out there mumbling about something you haven’t done right.”
Dolan wore many hats before her tragic death in November 2011. Aside from the conservancy, Dolan also served as president of the Queens Civic Congress.
She advocated for Urban Park Ranger programs at Meadow and Willow lakes in FMCP, installing bird blinds at both lakes, working towards the shoreline restoration of Meadow Lake and installing an osprey pole and nest at Willow Lake.
The bird blinds, however, brought out a few chuckles. State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) spoke of her time spent at a bird blind not spotting anything though Dolan kept pointing out birds.
“You just don’t say no to Pat,” she said.