Sunday, June 24, 2012

The realities of available money and NYC parks

This article appeared in the NYPost News.

Among those parks --"Highland Park" actually includes bird and nature  rich Ridgewood Reservoir which was slated to have a turf sport field in the low wetland basin, a fight that started with Brooklyn Bird Club approached by a local activist way back then..

See also

Parks & wrecks for Mike


Last Updated: 4:55 AM, June 24, 2012

Posted: 11:45 PM, June 23, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg’s legacy parks are coming — but they’re mired in hefty price tags and design problems.

The city has over-promised and under-delivered on $291 million in park projects that are being rushed to seal the mayor’s

place in history, critics say.

The eight regional parks were announced with great fanfare in April 2007 as part of Hizzoner’s ambitious PlaNYC program.

Five years later, the push to get them completed — or at least under way— before the end of the mayor’s term in 2013 has led

to downsized plans, engineering issues and delays.

“There was no planning, no realistic cost estimates. It was fantasy mixed with p.r.,” said Geoffrey Croft of NYC Parks


Troubles emerged soon after the mayor’s goals were passed to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe and his strapped Parks

Department. Benepe announced his resignation last week.

Among the problems:

* Ocean Breeze Park in Staten Island saw work on a $69.7 million indoor track stopped over concerns the site’s concrete

pilings wouldn’t hold up in the marshy soil. Outdoor soccer and baseball fields were cut. The track lacks air conditioning,

making it unusable for big meets.

* At Highland Park, Queens, the administration abandoned its plan to build a 60-acre sports center when environmentalists

proved the site was an irreplaceable habitat. The revised project, a $19.3 million installation of paths, lights and fences, has

been delayed by construction woes.

* Calvert Vaux Park in Brooklyn was to get sports fields, kayak launches and playgrounds, but amenities were cut after the

discovery of contaminated soil. Much of the $20.1 million budget had to be spent on a cleanup.

* At Brooklyn’s McCarren Park Pool, set to reopen June 28 after a $50 million renovation and a year’s delay, a promised

rooftop cafe has not been built.

* $29.3 million was budgeted to update Rockaway Park in Queens, but the plan’s second phase, renovation of the Beach Ninth

Street portion, has still not been designed.

* Manhattan’s Fort Washington Park was promised a soccer and volleyball facility, renovations to baseball and soccer fields

and upgrades to its beach area, but the major sports and recreation elements of the $25.1 million plan were deferred.

* Contamination at Soundview Park in The Bronx caused delays in its $15.3 million renovation. The amphitheater and

performance lawn remain unscheduled.

* The city will spend $61.9 million to turn the High Bridge linking The Bronx and Manhattan into a passage for pedestrians and

bikes. The design phase, delayed from 2008, was just finished and work hasn’t begun.

In its rush to build, the city skipped crucial steps like site reviews, park activists say.

At Highland Park, for example, the environmental assessment began months too late. And the city seemed unaware the soil

under Calvert Vaux Park is a stew of Fort Lafayette munitions and dredge mud from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge’s


“Mercury, munitions, petroleum, maybe even unexploded bombs from World War I— we don’t know what’s in that soil,” said Ida

Sanoff of the Natural Resources Protective Association.

Once the eight projects are finished, finding funds to maintain them will be an annual headache.

“Future maintenance is our biggest concern,” said Francisco Gonzalez of The Bronx’s Community Board 9. “When there are

budget cutbacks, the parks face the worst cuts.”


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