Place Category: Parks and Playgrounds
For many years, this site has been called “Farmers Oval” in tribute to the Glendale Farmers Base Ball Club, a semi-professional team that was active from the early 1900’s through the 1950’s. The Glendale Farmers played ball on this site for almost half a century. In 1948 the City of New York acquired the site bounded by Lutheran Cemetery Branch of the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit line, the Manhattan Beach Division of the Long Island Railroad, the New York Connecting Railroad, and 65th Place. The cul-de-sac extension of 68th Avenue was eliminated, and plans were made to transform the vacant lot into a new park.
Mayor William O’Dwyer, Queens Borough President James A. Burke, and Parks Commissioner Robert Moses participated in the groundbreaking ceremony on June 28, 1949. One year later, the children of Ridgewood were able to enjoy the play equipment and the many athletic facilities. There were baseball, softball, and football fields; basketball and handball courts; and an area for rollerskating and iceskating, depending on the season. During its early years, the park was known variously as Farmers Oval, Ridgewood Park, and Glen Ridge Park. The latter name refers to the park’s location on the boundary between Glendale and Ridgewood. In 1967 the official name was changed by law from Glenridge Park to Joseph F. Mafera Park in memory of the Queens Democrat.
A long-time Ridgewood resident, Mafera (1895-1967) served in the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. He launched his career in the public service as secretary and later superintendent of the Queens Parks Department from 1925 to 1932. Mafera served as an Alderman from the 59th District, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles in charge of the Queens office, Assistant Commissioner, and then Commissioner of Borough Works. After the death of Borough President Maurice A. Fitzgerald in August 1951, Mafera was chosen interim Queens Borough President. He was an executive member of the Ridgewood Democratic Club, and from 1951 to 1961, he served on the New York City Tax Commission. Mafera died on February 12, 1967.
Almost forty-six years after the O’Dwyer groundbreaking, Mayor Giuliani, Borough President Shulman, and Parks Commissioner Stern participated in a ribboncutting ceremony which celebrated the reopening of the newly renovated park on March 18, 1995. The Borough President funded the $2.2 million reconstruction of Joseph F. Mafera Park. New construction provided a state-of-the-art roller rink with sideboards and bleachers as well as baseball, basketball, and handball courts. The softball and football fields were renovated. Other improvements included new play equipment, benches, pavements, lights, and trees.
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