Astoria’s Rainey Park, located on the waterfront off Vernon Boulevard, between 33rd Road and 35th Avenue, is closed, and while many are happy with the reason why, not everyone is pleased to be missing a greenspace.
Construction on a new greenway at the park — which would give cyclists and pedestrians a path along the waterfront — began on Dec. 29 and won’t be completed until mid-summer, according to Zachary Feder, a spokesman for the Parks Department.
The project is part of a larger plan, put together by the city and the Parks Department, called the “Queens East River and North Shore Greenway,” which seeks to connect the shoreline from Newtown Creek in Long Island City all the way to the Flushing Bay Promenade, with some detours and gaps along the way, via a pedestrian-cyclist path. The total cost of the project is $3.4 million, according to Feder.
But for Astoria resident Marieken Cochius, Rainey Park’s closure has left her without her primary outdoor space — the hours at nearby Socrates Sculpture Park, open from 10 a.m. until sunset a few blocks north, are inconvenient, she said.
“It’s just ridiculous,” Cochius said as she walked her two German shepherds, Ezmir and Gyallmo, along the sidewalk abutting Rainey Park. Cochius wondered why “part of the park can’t be open to the public.”
At the moment, though construction seems concentrated along the waterfront and a dug-up path leading from Rainey’s main entrance, the entire swath of the park is closed, with several signs along its Vernon Boulevard fence warning people to stay out.
Rainey’s closure came up at last week’s meeting of Green Shores NYC, a volunteer group that seeks to improve access to the waterfront in Long Island City and Astoria.
“What people are going to miss is the playground,” said Ilana Teitel, chair of the group’s visioning committee. Rainey Park contains a playground as well as a baseball field and a dog run.
The closure, Green Shores’ Vice President Clare Doyle noted, “came up fast.”
But, she added, construction of the greenway has been long-awaited.
“I think I attended a meeting almost 10 years ago [about the plan],” Doyle said.
For Green Shores, a central concern is that the greenway connect Rainey and Socrates Sculpture parks, separated at the moment by Costco, which has its own esplanade.
Rainey Park is part of “segment 2” of the East River plan; segment 1, stretching from Newtown Creek to the Queensborough Bridge, has already been completed, according to Feder.