The reservoir's historic structures & ecosystems are an opportunity to create a unique environmental education center for our children & their future.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

PlaNYC Fantasy

The blog "A Walk in the Park" has a posting on the NYC department of parks and Mayor Bloomberg's mismanagement of the PlaNYC plans for Calvert Vaux Park:

Bloomberg PlaNYC Parks - Fantasy and P.R.

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More Parks Mismanagement

The following story about the huge failure of Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC  "legacy" parks just appeared in the New York Post:

Parks and wrecks for Mike
Hizzoner’s fields of dreams coming up short
By Mary Kay Linge

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 Advocates.

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 Ridgewood Reservoir], 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 construction.

“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.”

NEW YORK POST is a registered trademark of NYP Holdings, Inc.

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Highland Park Problems

As it has been pointed out numerous times in the past, the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation's ability to maintain existing recreational facilities at Highland Park is dubious, at best. I can't imagine the mess they would make if they razed the forests and wetlands in the reservoir basins to build their proposed facilities. From the New York Daily News:

Cypress Hills softball players say city needs to replace lights and cut grass on field
Burnt-out lights lights at Highland Park are ruining games, players say
Wednesday, June 6, 2012, 5:52 PM

This field of dreams in Cypress Hills Dozens has become an endless nightmare for a group of softball players.

Members of the Hermanos Unidos softball league say burnt -out spotlights are ruining games at Highland Park on Jamaica Ave. - just like it did two years ago.

After the city fixed electrical issues that caused the field to be poorly-lit in June 2010, players are once again running the bases in the dark because the burnt-out bulbs haven’t been replaced.

“It’s frustrating,” said league organizer Yordi Olivo. “There are players who miss balls. They can’t see it because it gets dark after 8pm.”

Players counted as many as 14 bulbs that have been out since last August. The unkempt outfield has also been a problem for players who said they finally broke down and started paying a local contractor $100 a week out of their own pockets to mow the grass.

After the News inquired about the situation, city Parks Department officials said it would cost too much to replace each individual bulb on the light towers right away but said both issues would be fixed next week.

“The recent unseasonably warm weather and heavy rains have caused the grass to grow at an unusually rapid rate, and we are unable to mow the grass after rainstorms without damaging the field,” said Park Dept. spokesman Zachary Feder.

“These ballfields are scheduled to be mowed again by the end of the week and the burnt-out lights replaced by early next week.”

Players and organizers said the Parks Department can’t fix the field soon enough.

League president Jose Claudio said he’s left several messages to members of the Parks Department asking them to replace the lights but never heard back.

“Whenever the sky is cloudy, no one can see the ball,” said Claudio. “When we get to the playoffs this is going to be a big problem.”

Gabby Borges, 45, was playing catcher on Tuesday when he lost a routine pop fly in the dark sky because of the poor lighting. The ball bounced between him and the pitcher and three runs scored.

“If there was enough light I would have seen it,” said Borges. “You feel bad but there’s nothing we can do. It’s not like we can climb up the pole and fix the lights ourselves.”

Salvador Valera, who owns the permit to play on the field six days a week, wants results for the $6,000 he paid for the permit.

“They are killing us. We can’t afford to pay all that money but we do it,” said Valera. “We have no other choice but to come up with the money but we don’t get the service that we pay for.”

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