Marshall Backs Effort To Honor Park Activist David Oats

Queens Tribune

Marshall Backs Effort To Honor Park Activist

David Oats
By Brian M. Rafferty

David Oats loved Flushing Meadows Corona Park. One of his first assignments as a young reporter was to speak with Robert Moses, the visionary power broker who masterminded so much of the development in the city – as well as the creation of the park and its second World’s Fair.

The meeting between Oats and Moses created a lasting bond between the young reporter and the park that stands in the heart of the borough he called home.

Oats, who died suddenly on Feb. 5, 2008, spent a large portion of his career as editor of the Queens Tribune, but never lost touch with his first love – Flushing Meadows. When he retired from newspapers he continued to work tirelessly as an advocate for the park, even going so far as to travel to Europe to advocate both for a third world’s fair and for the park’s use as a venue for the Olympics.

David Oats

David Oats

Oats saw the park as a dynamic location, filled with the energy of not just the people who use it, but the events that have taken place there through the years. In short, the park was his first true love – a love that filled his heart until the day he died.

It is fitting, then, that a year after his death, a portion of the park may be named for him. The idea, first touted by this paper in the days after Oats’ death, is supported by this newspaper, its publisher, Oats’ widow and Borough President Helen Marshall.

Marshall has asked New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe to rename the promenade around the Unisphere after this fierce park advocate.

“David loved the park and Queens, and I am happy to support this effort to provide some sort of fitting memorial to him for all he did for Flushing Meadows Corona Park,” Marshall said Wednesday.

The letter asks for Benepe’s aid in officially naming the pathway surrounding the Unisphere for Oats.

“He was a dedicated Queens historian and preservationist who devoted his time and energy to ensuring the lasting legacy of the 1939 and 1964 World Fairs,” Marshall wrote. “He worked tirelessly as an advocate for park lovers who cherish our borough’s flagship park… As the first anniversary of his death approaches, it is fitting to now memorialize his efforts on behalf of the park and our Borough’s residents.”

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