Volunteers' Apple-Green Paint Job at Woodside Park Too Bright for City
WOODSIDE — Emerald green is the hot color of 2013 — but apparently, the city's Parks Department didn't get the memo.
Parks Department officials said they're going to re-paint the seating area near the "Doughboy statue," which depicts an American infantry soldier at Woodside's Doughboy Park, because volunteers who paid out of pocket to slather the statue's surroundings with a cheery Granny-apple-green paint used a color that's too bright for their tastes.
"Doughboy Park, including the area around the park's historic war memorial, was recently painted by a group of local veterans and community volunteers. The Parks Department appreciates their stewardship but details of this painting, including the color of the war memorial area, were not shared with us," a Parks Department spokesman wrote in a statement.
"It is important to note that the Parks Department provides free materials, including paint, for approved volunteer projects," the statement continued. "The park and memorial area is being restored to its original color, in consultation with our Art & Antiquities conservators."
The neighbors responsible for the vibrant new look — which was timed to prepare for a celebration planned by local veterans to commemorate the statue's 90th anniversary this Thursday — say they're bewildered that what they'd intended to be a good deed has turned into controversy.
"I just want to give back to the neighborhood. It's a privilege to live in Woodside," said Edgar Cartagena, a 54-year-old superintendent who lives nearby and led the makeover effort.
An active community member, Cartagena said he started doing clean-up projects at the park over the last few years, mowing the grass and putting up a decorated Christmas tree near the Doughboy statue during the holidays.
"Nobody was taking care of it," he said. "There was a lot of graffiti. It was like nobody cared. So I decided to paint it."
Cartagena spent a few hundred dollars of his own to buy supplies and eight gallons of Behr Premium Plus in "Sparkling Apple" paint — a vibrant green shade that's the color of a Granny Smith apple and sells for $33 a gallon.
Ed Bergendahl, an 81-year-old Korean War veteran who lives across the street from the park and heads up the Woodside Civic Association, said they chose the green paint because they wanted to match the bright hues found in the park's trees and grass.
He also said they wanted to make the area stand out for the anniversary celebration on Thursday, which will mark 90 years since the Doughboy statue was unveiled in 1923. He said the previous paint job was a dull green, and much of the old paint had been chipping off.
"It needed a paint job," he said, adding they'd mentioned their plan to someone from the Parks Department last month, but didn't get formal approval.
He said he hopes they can work amicably with the Parks Department to come up with a compromise.
Cartagena and two other volunteers from the neighborhood worked on the paint job piece by piece over the course of about a month, until the entire seating area around the park's war memorial statue was taken care of, he said.
The group also planted a "Heroes Garden" on the grounds flanking the seating area, adding several trees and bushes bearing signs with the names and photos of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The men said they've painted in the park before and never heard any backlash. They think the reaction this time was sparked by an anonymous critic — who posted on the blog Queens Crap — who isn't a fan of Sparkling Apple.
"It's over somebody that called that's very unhappy with the color," Bergendahl said.
But Carmel Brandeis, 61, who works at nearby P.S. 11 and frequently eats her lunch at Doughboy Plaza, said she welcomed the change.
"I think it looks beautiful," she said.