QUEENS — A large chunk of a Kew Gardens park that was transformed into a parking lot for the Queens District Attorney's Office without informing locals will be restored in the coming months — with the DA on the hook for renovations, officials said Tuesday.
DNAinfo New York reported last week that a portion of the 1.5-acre Maple Grove Park, located between Queens Boulevard, Hoover Avenue and the Van Wyck Expressway, was suddenly paved over by a company working on the lengthy Kew Gardens Interchange project.
Until last week, the lot near Queens Criminal Court was being used by staff for the Queens DA.
Credit: DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska
But on Tuesday, the Parks Department said that the DA’s office had vacated the space and that the park would be restored in the coming months, weather permitting, without offering a specific timeline.
The department also said that it is currently working on a plan that will include removing gravel, aerating the soil and planting new seeds.
The DA’s office will be responsible for handling the renovations and footing the bill, the Parks Department said.
It was unclear who gave permission to ECCO III Enterprises, Inc. — which for the past six years has worked on the Interchange project seeking to widen the Van Wyck Expressway — to build the lot.
A spokeswoman for the Queens District Attorney’s office, Meris Campbell, said Tuesday that her office “had all the necessary and appropriate approvals," but she couldn't say which city agency authorized the lot.
She also said the arrangement was temporary and that the DA’s office was planning to restore the park once construction was completed.
The state Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the Interchange project, owns another lot adjacent to the park and has been using it as a staging area for ECCO III Enterprises throughout construction, DOT spokeswoman Diane Park previously told DNAinfo New York.
She also noted that the staging area will now be used for cars currently parking in a restricted parking area along 132nd Street, located behind the courthouse, which the DOT will be taking over during the next phase of the Interchange project.
ECCO III Enterprises did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Kew Gardens suffers from a chronic parking shortage, especially after a nearby municipal garage, which originally included more than 900 spots, was demolished in 2014 due to safety concerns.
A new municipal parking lot featuring around 300 parking spaces is currently under construction.
Local residents said they were thrilled to hear that the park would be restored, but noted that they would like to be involved in the process.
“We would like to be in the loop now because we were left out when they took it away from us,” said former NYPD detective Phil Serpico, who lives across the street from the park and uses his motorized wheelchair to get there.
"We would like to see a dog run in the restored area for the hundreds of people that have a dog in the Kew Gardens area and perhaps a few picnic tables.”