The park is situated on a commercial and partially residential strip, bounded by 67th Road, Queens Boulevard, and 102nd Street. Federoff Triangle may be one of the most uniquely shaped and smallest of parks in Queens, but it certainly holds great meaning to community residents.
Most notably, Federoff Triangle offers the opportunity for locals to converse with their neighbors in a close-knit space, under two graceful moderate-sized London Plane Sycamore trees and one Maple tree. It is also a restful stop for shoppers and passersby who may wish to hop on the Q60 bus.
Locals witnessed the erection of a chain-link fence around the park on March 19, which marked approximately 18 years since the park’s last renovation project. On March 20, the dismantling of the wood and cement benches and the octagonal asphalt pavement began. The three trees were braced for protection during the renovation process.
On March 26, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site, as shovels were placed in the soil by Queens Parks Department Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, as well as the engineer, architect, and project manager.
Federoff Triangle’s renovation could be complete by June or earlier. The project is under a 12-week contract, and will come to fruition as a result of $150,000 allocated by Koslowitz.
“I take great pleasure in helping to restore the beauty of this triangle that has become a gathering site for the community,” said Koslowitz. “Federoff Triangle has long been a wonderful public space, and these needed capital improvements are integral to its preservation.”
Parks Department Manager Rene Herrera, who serves Community Board 6, anticipates “an improved site, which the community will enjoy a lot more.”
Upgrades will include a new arrangement of bi-directional bench stations, with a newly installed pair of benches on the Queens Boulevard frontage, as well as the installation of “landmark gray” octagonal tiles to be level with the tree pits, an ADA pedestrian ramp on the east end of the park, and two new London Plane Sycamore trees for increased shade, aesthetic beauty, and environmental benefits.
Bollards will be installed at the edge of sitting areas for protection from traffic, and it is rumored that a Federoff Triangle historic marker sign will be installed to replace the sign that went missing in 2006.
Park-goers complained about pigeon droppings, so the placement of benches and tree-pruning should minimize the problem. Another concern was the occasional homeless person sleeping on a bench, so the new traditionally-styled benches will have iron armrest partitions.
While the renovation has its benefits, park-goers such as Joel Gerber of Forest Hills felt shut out of the process.
“I saw people sitting in the park, and then a fence was erected around them,” he says. “We are the public, and have the right to know what is going on and why. At least display a sign in advance, explaining the project with a range of dates. This is our environment.”
Herrera explained, “This is not a long-term project, and a sign would cost extra money.”
Most locals are unaware of the history behind Federoff Triangle. The park pays homage to Gussie and Barnie Federoff, who lived in close proximity in Rego Park.
Gussie was born in Kiev, immigrated to America, married Barnie, and was successful in raising funds for the United Jewish Appeal as a member of Hadassah in Washington Heights.
Hadassah’s mission entails women’s issues and medical training, and is the earliest Zionist organization worldwide. Gussie was born in 1889 and died in 1967, and Barnie died on February 10, 1970.
“Federoff Triangle” became a reality when the City Council passed legislation to name the park in their honor in September of 1970.
Federoff Triangle is a symbol to the community. Mitchell Kessler, a Forest Hills resident since 1978, explains, “It is a vital, living, multi-functional triangle, where seniors people-watch, make new friends, and local students eat lunch,” explains Mitchell Kessler, a Forest Hills resident since 1978. “It’s the only spot within ten blocks for lovers, families, and friends to congregate, or witness the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah.
“It is also a meeting place for a variety of birds and pigeons,” he adds. “In the olden days, people would sit and talk outside their building, which has somewhat phased out, so now we have our park. When I first moved to Forest Hills in 1978, the original Knish Nosh on the south side of Queens Boulevard and 67th Road barely had seats, so I watched people gathering in the park over knishes.”
While taking a poll of what park-goers would like to see in their park, some have expressed everything from more trees to a water fountain to a sculpture of Gussie and Barnie Federoff.
A future renovation may grant some of those wishes, but this renovation will truly be a delight, rooted in tradition.