The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Socrates Sculpture Park Could Become Official Parkland, City Says

 The entrance to Socrates Sculpture Park on Vernon Boulevard and Broadway in Astoria.
The entrance to Socrates Sculpture Park on Vernon Boulevard and Broadway in Astoria.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

ASTORIA — After 30 years in operation, the city is looking to make Socrates Sculpture Park official mapped parkland — an action that will preserve the park as open space, officials said.

The outdoor art museum, located along the East River between Broadway and 31st Avenue, is a nonprofit that has a licensing agreement with the city to operate and maintain the park, according to director John Hatfield.

Though it's located on city land and has been under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department since 1993, it was never "mapped" as a park — a land use distinction that will secure its status and protect it from potential future development, the organization said.

"This is a momentous occasion for the park," Hatfield said at a Community Board 1 meeting Tuesday. "This action will make the park a mapped park, thereby securing it for the future."

The day-to-day operations of the park will remain the same, according to the Parks Department.

CB1 on Tuesday approved the department's land use application for the change, which also includes acquiring a small privately owned parcel of land around the park's entrance near Broadway. The move will need approval from the borough president and the City Planning Commission before it's official.

Though the land is used as part of the park, it's actually owned by the same developer that owns the Costco next door, who agreed to hand it over to the Parks Department in exchange for the development rights from another parcel, officials said.

The lot that Socrates Sculpture Park is acquiring may be used to set up trailers for offices and children's programming, CB1 said.

Hatfield said the exchange is the result of "almost a decade of conversations," between Socrates, the Parks Department and the Costco owner.

The park is celebrating a milestone anniversary this year, 30 years after abstract sculptor Mark di Suvero turned the garbage-filled piece of land into a space to exhibit his work.

Today, the park welcomes 150,000 visitors a year who come to see its outdoor art, as well as take part in programming like free kayaking, yoga classes, film festivals and other performances — all for free.

"We've made great strides in being able to improve this park," Hatfield said.