Saturday, October 15, 2011

MacDonald Park Meeting Calls For Proactive Approach By Our Volunteers To Restore Forest Hills' Historic Anchor

Since the early 1930s, MacDonald Park with its Gerald MacDonald statue, has been an anchor of Forest Hills. However, in early August 2011, park-goers and passersby began to notice disturbing issues. Chair Michael Perlman of Rego-Forest Preservation Council, submitted a 12-page photo survey to the NYC Dept of Parks, with copies to our elected officials:
 Since the survey submission, members of Rego-Forest Preservation Council began discussing the creation of a voluntary subcommittee which would engage in proactive strategies for maintaining, beautifying, and enhancing MacDonald Park. On Oct 2, 2011, members were grateful to hold a meeting in MacDonald Park with Parks Manager Rene Herrera, who serves the CB 6 vicinity, comprising of Forest Hills & Rego Park. Hassan King of Partnerships For Parks has also been very helpful towards our cause, and plans on meeting with us as well. The Parks Dept could always benefit through the role of volunteers, considering the city's budget, and also as a result of the progress of a public-private partnership.

Primary Topics of Discussion

1. Almost 10 trees that were planted in April 2011 at the One Thing That's Green event have perished prematurely. It may be attributed to the late July drought. Those trees will be replaced, since they are under warranty. Rego-Forest Preservation Council members suggested replacing the irrigation system which was dismantled during the Sept 2010 tornado, & Rene Herrera thought it would be a good idea for us to look into the possibility of acquiring a drip sprinkler system.

2. We discussed the possibility of a mature tree moving company to strengthen the integrity of our park trees, by engaging in methods of stabilizing them and pruning when necessary. Historically speaking, mature trees can be excavated and transplanted! There is no replacement for a mature tree, which fosters much beauty, shade, and purification of our air.

3. Rego-Forest Preservation Council's subcommittee will assign volunteers to help maintain the park by cleaning, watering, and planting bushes, flowers, and trees upon agreement per project. We will be on the lookout for organizations that can donate these plantings, so bald areas on the lawn and some unkempt bushes will be addressed, for example.

4. The centerpiece of MacDonald Park is the historic Gerald MacDonald statue. Its base contains text, but weathering has taken its toll, making it difficult to decipher the statement of dedication. Rego-Forest Preservation Council plans on nominating the statue and the park for the State & National Register of Historic Places. If the nomination is successful, it will commemorate the park, and open the door to federal tax credits and state-matching grants, among other potential incentives, and allow for the restoration of the statue and park over time.

5. A bench that went missing, which was documented in our August 2011 survey submission to the Parks Dept (above) has been restored almost immediately thereafter, and graffiti on the MacDonald Park plaque has been cleaned off.

Press To Date

1. NY1 News interview: Forest Hills Residents Want Parks Dept To Fix Up MacDonald Park

2. Queens Chronicle: Civic Group Seeks Partnership

3. Forum West, Dead Trees In MacDonald Park Worry Residents

4. Forest Hills Patch, The history of MacDonald Park, written by Michael Perlman:

We thank Rene Herrera, Parks Manager of CB 6, and the Parks Department for their willingness to work with us. We also thank Hassan King of Partnerships For Parks for his assistance and plans to meet with us in the near future. 

If anyone is interested in joining our subcommittee to help maintain the park, and volunteer with and/or support Rego-Forest Preservation Council, please e-mail Michael Perlman at

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