Life's a walk in the park for longtime Howard Beach resident Dorothy McCloskey. She's dedicated the past 20 years to keeping the neighborhood's sole green space, Frank M. Charles Memorial Park, in tip-top shape. The public school teacher and community activist founded the Howard Beach Civic Association and served as chairperson of the Committee to Rebuild Frank Charles Park, where she helped obtain a million dollar grant from Congress. The park is her passion, and the neighborhood benefits from her dedication.
What inspired you to become active in the community?
We had a park that's owned by the [federal] government and they had severely neglected the park. It was definitely the park [that inspired me]. I had young children at the time and Frank Charles Park was the only green space that we had in Howard Beach. There are parks that are attached to the schools, but I mean like beautiful green space for people to picnic and barbecue and ride bicycles and go for walks.
What do you like the most about Howard Beach?
The public schools are excellent; the Catholic schools are excellent. They strive really hard to give the kids the benefit of good education. I think that's very noticeable in our community, because when we do set out to do things civically, the schools are great partners with us. I think that spills over into the kind of education the kids are getting, that they understand the importance of community.
What are some of your favorite places in the area?
My favorite place is Frank Charles Park. I like walking there in the evenings and watching sun go down, seeing the ducks. And then one of my favorite places is just to walk down Cross Bay Boulevard, take in all the smells of all the great restaurants I love to go to, and the great shopping we have in the community.
What are your future activism plans?
It's always going to be, for me and the people on my committee, continuing to work on the issues of the park. I guess for me, to make sure that we always have a voice for the community, whether it's through our organization or whether it's working with the Howard Beach Conservatory for Frank Charles Park to make sure our voices are heard and that we never forget how important that community space is. That will always be my project.