Oats To Be Honored At Flushing Meadows
By Joseph Orovic
A tribute to former Queens Tribune editor and Flushing Meadows Corona Park activist David Oats will rest in the heart of the Park and Borough that drove most of his activism.
The Parks Department, a City agency familiar with Oats' activism, and Borough President Helen Marshall disclosed the proposed rose garden, located between the Queens Museum and Queens Theatre. It will feature upgraded plantings and benches, as well as a plaque commemorating Oats, all in the shadow of the New York State Pavilion, a structure he spent four decades defending.
"It's something really monumental," said Oats' widow Corinne. She received word of the honor while driving and had to pull over to regain her composure.
"I know that David is smiling in heaven. I don't know if 'thank you' is enough," she said.
Oats spent four decades advocating for the protection and improvement of the borough's parks. He was founder and president of the Flushing Meadows Corona Park World's Fair Association, with Robert Moses as its first chair.
Oats passed away Feb. 5, 2008 of complications involving an infection.
"Parks has to be commended for this," said Greg Godfrey, Oats' protégé and successor as protector of the park. "It's never easy being an advocate and it's never easy standing up and saying the tough things. This is the Parks Dept. recognizing that we all do have the same goals at heart."
The Borough President's office kept up with Parks, noting a back and forth as to what would be an appropriate tribute.
"This is a fitting, living and lasting memorial to a great advocate to the parks," the Borough President spokesman Dan Andrews said.
The process of creating the garden has just begun, and the Tribune asked Corinne what a fitting flower would be for Oats.
"Oh, roses and tulips. Those are on the Borough's flag," she answered easily.
Andrews relayed the message to the Parks Dept., who promised they will "work something out."
Reach Reporter Joseph Orovic at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127