Broken Water Fountains Leave Astoria Parkgoers High and Dry, Report Says

By Jeanmarie Evelly on March 15, 2013 6:46am 

ASTORIA — Astoria Park is a “bucolic” gem of a green space, a new report finds — just not if you’re thirsty.

The study from the parks advocacy group New Yorkers for Parks gave high marks to the picturesque Queens waterfront site — lauding its trees, pathways and playgrounds — but said there’s a drought when it comes to functioning water fountains.

According to the report, two of the three drinking fountains surveyed by the group got failing grades for plumbing problems.

The study, conducted last summer, also found that the 60-acre park’s four fountains aren’t enough to quench the thirst of the many parkgoers who use the popular space, “making the maintenance of existing fountains all the more important.” 

The water fountains in Long Island City’s Queensbridge Park got similarly bad reviews, according to the report, with three of its four fountains found to be clogged or leaking.

A Parks Department spokesman said the city regularly inspects each of the 837 drinking fountains in Queens during the course of their operating season (the fountains are turned off during cold weather).

Plumbers made nearly 200 repairs to water fountains in Queens during the time New Yorkers for Parks’ surveyors were in the field, the spokesman said, adding that fountains at both Astoria and Queensbridge Park “were functioning both before and after the survey period, and will be functioning this year."

Holly Leicht, director for New Yorkers for Parks, said malfunctioning drinking fountains were found in nearly all the large city parks the group surveyed.

Astoria Park Alliance co-founder Martha Lopez-Gilpin said keeping the water fountains up and running is an arduous task. 

“You’ve got thousands of people handling this single piece of equipment every day and a lot of [the fountains] are very old,” she said.

Typical problems are low water pressure and leaks, Lopez-Gilpin said, adding that one of the most used fountains — near the park’s big lawn — has malfunctioned for “a long time.”

“It works, but it leaks,” she said.

Other than its water fountains, Astoria Park got high marks from New Yorkers for Parks on nearly all of the other categories the group ranks, scoring 91 points out of a possible 100, one point higher than it did in last year’s survey.

“We gained a point, and we’ll take that point,” Lopez-Gilpin said.

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