|Community Park dedicated in honor of Carlos Lillo|
In October of 2004 the Community Board 1 approved the construction of a new community park to be dedicated in honor of Carlos Lillo, an Astoria emergency medical technician who was killed in the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Assembyman Michael Gianaris secured more than $150,000 in state funds to acquire and develop the park at 76th Street and 21st Avenue. The property is currently used as a storage site for a construction company.
The event to dedicate the park is schedule for October 2, 2008.
The plan to build Carlos Lillo Park must still get approval from Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and the Department of City Planning. The Parks Department must also negotiate with the property owner in order to acquire the land.
The plan to build a park in honor of Lillo has been two years in the making, according to Gianaris. The proposal has received the support of both local civic leaders and business owners in the neighborhood.
“Honoring the life of Carlos Lillo with this new park is a very fitting tribute,” Gianaris said. “He lived in this neighborhood and worked saving lives as a paramedic and gave his life for all New Yorkers.”
Gianaris called the storage site an “eyesore” for the community that has been there since he was growing up in Astoria. In fact, the PTA president for PS 2l, which is located across the street, has sent a letter supporting the park plan.
Lillo, 37, had worked for 16 years as a member of the FDNY-EMS Battalion 49 out of Mount Sinai Hospital in Astoria. He had reportedly entered the South Tower five minutes before it collapsed on September 11th, and his remains were found in March 2002.
He was born in Puerto Rico and moved to New York City with his mother and siblings when he was 14 years old. He got his start in the field as a 17-year-old volunteer for the radiology department at the former Astoria Hospital, before transferring to that hospital’s ambulance division.
At the time of his death, Lillo was living in Babylon, Long Island with his wife, Cecilia. She was in attendance at the CB 1 meeting on Tuesday night, but was too emotional when asked to say a few words.
“It’s an honor and a tribute to my husband and I know he would be very proud,” Lillo said afterward. “He loved the outdoors and he loved children. This means a lot to me and to his family and the generations to come who will use it.”
She believes the tribute to Lillo also serves as recognition of the sacrifices that EMTs make on the job.
“He always said that thir work was as risky as the police and firemen and a lot of time they don’t get the recognition,” Lillo said.
CB 1 District Manager George Delis said the only questions about the park from the board’s standpoint was about its design.
“I knew Carlos Lillo many years ago and he was a lovely guy, very nice,” Delis said. “I’m glad this is getting done.”
This is the second tribute that Lillo’s old neighborhood has paid him. Last year, 30th Road, at the corner of Crescent Street, was renamed Carlos Lillo Way.