|DANGER DO NOT ENTER. Abraham Jones, executive director of Claremont Neighborhood Center, stands with kids outside Claremont Park Playground which has been abandoned. (Photo by Enid Alvarez)|
THE CITY spent $150,000 to build a new South Bronx playground rather than fix a shuttered park on the same block, according to the New York Daily News.
Neighbors and park advocates say the city robbed Peter to pay Paul this summer when it bankrolled Public School 42’s new playground while a dangerous sinkhole next door has kept Claremont Community Park closed to the public since 2009.
“That park is an eyesore,” said Prince Patrick, 32, who lives nearby. “It should be fixed by now.”
The half-acre park, at Claremont Parkway and Park Ave., opened in 2001, thanks to City Spaces, a public-private program for neighborhoods that lack adequate parkland. Nine years later, the park is marred by weeds and rubble, and signs warn local youngsters to keep out. “We can’t keep flushing money down the toilet,” said Geoffrey Croft of New York City Park Advocates.
The park won’t reopen until next spring, because Parks currently has no capital funds to fix the sinkhole, said spokeswoman Cristina DeLuca.
Croft called the delay “unacceptable.” The department seems to have ample funds for parks in more affluent neighborhoods, seethed South Bronx park advocate Harry Bubbins.
Bubbins charged that a “two-tiered system” of parks funding exists, favoring Manhattan’s West Side over the South Bronx.
The Bronx school is responsible for the everyday upkeep of the park, which includes a community garden, a playground, a short asphalt running track and a small sports field, said DeLuca. The older students at PS 42 used the park at recess and after school before it closed.
When she saw the school’s new playground, developed through another public/private program, Out2Play, PS 42 second grader Brieanna Tucker wondered why her favorite park hadn’t been fixed instead.
“I wish [the park] was open,” sniffed Brieanna. “Me and my friends used to go down the slides.”
Only one other Bronx park, Longfellow Garden in Longwood, is currently closed due to serious damage, said Parks spokeswoman Cristina DeLuca.
A sinkhole the size of a small car has swallowed one corner of Claremont Community Park and weeds have sprouted everywhere.
“It looks bad,” said Abraham Jones, Claremont Neighborhood Center executive director.
Kids from the center played at the park before it closed, as did students from a nearby charter school, Jones said.
Emma Peterkin, 69, whose grandchildren used the park, said PS 42 should put pressure on Parks. “My kids have to go way down the block to play,” she said.
Councilwoman Helen Foster (D-South Bronx) allocated the capital funds to build PS 42’s new playground.