C R Y D E R P O I N T 16SEPTEMBER Parks Department closes Oakland Lake Park for one year BY ERIC JANKIEWICZ The Parks Department closed Oakland Lake Park in Bayside last week to begin a huge one-year construction project. The project will include the installation of stone swales (similar to bioswales), cleaning the drainage system and planting new native wetland plants, according to the Parks Department. The $2.5 million project’s aim is to improve water quality by reducing the amount of sewage water seeping into the lake during rainstorms, but some park-goers believe that closing the whole section of the park is a drastic move and it will leave many in the community at a loss for recreational activities. Eugene Harris, a professor at Queensborough Community College, is skeptical about how necessary the changes are. Harris maintains a Queensborough nature blog devoted to the flora and fauna of the park. The lake, which is part of the larger Alley Pond Park, borders the college and Harris said that many students and faculty visited the lake to escape the stress of academics. But since the city fenced off the 46-acre area until next fall, the public is restricted from using any part of it. “It’s crazy that they’re caging in the entire lake,” Harris said. “I can’t see why they couldn’t do it in portions so that the public can at least enjoy part of it.” A Parks Department spokeswoman said it is necessary to keep the park closed for public safety and so that contractors can work unhindered. The spokeswoman noted that closing a park for major construction like this is typical procedure. The Parks Department announced the project in 2011. Sesame Street films episode about diversity in Queens BY ERIC JANKIEWICZ When the children’s show Sesame Street is doing an episode about racial and cultural diversity, where do they turn? Queens. Sesame Street filmed an episode that celebrates diversity, and they filmed part of it in a Fresh Meadows children’s athletic center, My Gym. But the film crew used more than just the gym’s child-friendly space; they also asked the gym’s director, Meredith Coleman, if they could film the students for their athletics and aesthetic. “And they asked that I make sure that the kids are as diverse as possible. We’ve always been diverse. That’s part of living in Queens,” Coleman said. The Sesame Street episode, “Proud to Be Me,” aired on Sept. 17, and the bulk of it came from filming the 60 kids from My Gym, including the “beautiful skin song” in the episode. When the film crew first started recording the children, ages 1 through 12, on June 16, they were shy. “They had a camera literally in their face so it was awkward at first,” Coleman said. “But soon the kids got used to it and some of them were even fighting for the camera’s attention. We try to build up the confidence of our kids and this helped perfectly, especially that it was an episode about being proud of who you are.” 16 cryder point courier | SEPTEMBER 2014 | WWW.QUEENSCOURIER.COM Photos courtesy of My Gym Coleman believes that the nonprofit education show chose My Gym, an international franchise, because they have always been very active in the community and have performed in Hershey Park and alongside the singer Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas. In December, a group of the older children will perform at halftime for the Harlem Globe Trotters in the Barclays Center. Photos courtesy of Eugene Harris Locals are skeptical about the importance of closing a Bayside park for renovations.
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