A 1.5 acre area of Long Island City has been transformed from a commuter parking lot into an eco-friendly green space. Dutch Kills Green, officially opened by Mayor Michael Bloomberg on April 4, features a wetlands park of 489 native trees and grasses which will naturally filter pollutants from storm water. The mini-park sits alongside pedestrian walkways and bike paths to create a usable, peaceful green space in the rapidly evolving post-industrial Queens waterfront neighborhood.
The project sits at the east end of the revitalization of Queens Plaza, which began in 2009 with a budget of $45 million. The urban wetlands area within the redevelopment is part of a growing trend by major cities to introduce non-invasive and drought-tolerant native plants into parks which replicate the growth and function of the diminishing and ecologically important natural wetlands. The parks are specifically designed to direct storm water drainage through greenery so as to reduce the rate at which pollutants run into nearby rivers and oceans.
At Queens Plaza, “artist-designed benches and interlocking / permeable pavers” guide the storm water’s path through a luscious green park designed by Margie Ruddick, Marpillero Pollak Architects and Michael Singer Studio on the site of the former John F. Kennedy commuter parking lot. The project was overseen by the Department of City Planning and the NYCEDC.
In total, the project has brought “new landscaping, flood abatement systems, signage and traffic improvements have transformed the plaza into a new and much improved entrance to our borough,” stated Queens Borough President Helen Marshall in a press release. Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe added “Whether you’re lingering or just passing through, spending any time in a green space can have a restorative and calming effect, and this improved plaza will make a beautiful complement to Queens’ more than 7,000 acres of parkland.”
Images © NYCEDC on Flickr