November 9 was “It’s My Park Day,” and under the guidance of community advocate Steve Melnick of Friends of MacDonald Park, the Forest Hills Green Team and support of the Parks Department, 23 volunteers aimed to beautify the largest public green space along Queens Boulevard.
From 9 to 11:30 a.m., volunteers planted an excess of 500 daffodil bulbs along the pathways of the park and the circular areas of Yellowstone Boulevard and 70th Avenue, as well as around trees near the Gerald MacDonald Statue.
Volunteers also painted tree leaves on seven rusting trash receptacles, collected 35 bags of leaves, and washed chess tables. Donated by Keil Bros. Garden & Nursery, 12 ornamental cabbages and 16 pansies now form the basis of four new greeting gardens along the 70th Avenue circle.
“We made a huge mark to improve our park,” said Steve Melnick, who has organized and participated in nearly a dozen MacDonald Park volunteer initiatives over the past five years. “Parks improve communities, and yet we have such little green space locally. Our citizens and leaders need to work as one, and hopefully they will not only participate on It’s My Park Day, but year-round.”
Melnick shared his vision for the park.
“We would like to have hardier shrubs and more formal plantings, consisting of a seasonal palette,” he said. “From spring through fall, there should always be something in bloom.”
A major problem in the park is the defunct irrigation system.
“It was vandalized around seven years ago, and the city never addressed it,” said Melnick. “We need a regular watering system, similar to that of Bryant Park. If everything is not watered at least once a week, our plants can die.”
The park was dedicated in 1932 and was briefly known as Thomas F. Harvey Square. It was renamed on April 25, 1933, to pay homage to Captain Gerald MacDonald (1882-1929), a Forest Hills resident who served in WWI.
It’s My Park Day was created in 2000 and has become a citywide tradition each fall and spring, when neighborhood residents volunteer to spruce up their neighborhood green spaces in connection with Partnerships for Parks.
Volunteers in Forest Hills ranged from local residents to Rutgers University students. They had a chance to meet the new Queens Outreach Coordinator for Partnerships For Parks, Nichole Henderson, as well as District 29’s recently appointed gardener, Ed O‘Neill.
“It is great seeing the fruits of our labor,” said two-year resident Sue Goon, who volunteered with her fiancé. “I would like to see more color by planting extra flowers, and possibly the addition of a water feature to reduce the noise of Queens Boulevard.”
People in the park Saturday morning appreciated the work. One individual offered to spend at least $20 to purchase a light breakfast for the volunteers, and others expressed interest in volunteering. One person suggested installing a sign that reads, “This park is maintained by volunteers. If you would like to assist us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.”