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Memorial in Gantry Plaza State Park Honors Late Community Leader

 A plaque was installed in the park this weekend to honor longtime advocate Bill Bylewski.
Memorial for Bill Bylewski
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LONG ISLAND CITY — A memorial was installed this weekend in Gantry Plaza State Park honoring late advocate Bill Bylewski, a longtime Hunters Point resident who spent years bettering his neighborhood's waterfront.

Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, an advocacy group that Bylewski helped found, dedicated a plaque on a wall in the garden of the park on Saturday, which was also the late community leader's birthday. He died from cancer earlier this year at the age of 53, friends said.

"I tried to make it more like a celebration of his life and service to the neighborhood," said Mark Christie, a fellow park advocate who worked alongside Bylewski in the park for more than a decade.

Bylewski was one of the founding members and longtime president of Friends of Gantry Plaza State Park, a group that advocated for the green space since its earliest days by cleaning, weeding and planting there.

The group expanded last year and was renamed the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy — a change Bylewski helped oversee — in order to include the new Hunters Point South Park, which opened on the waterfront just south of Gantry Park in 2013.

Christie said the garden in Gantry Park where the plaque was installed, between 49th and 50th Avenues, was where he and Bylewski worked together planting last year in what was the last project they would undertake together before Bylewski fell ill.

The plaque bears Bylewski's name, calling him a "caretaker of the beauty and garden of this park."

"This is a fitting tribute to him, and it should be in the garden forever," Christie said.