Friday, April 20, 2012

Little Bay Park's Bathroom Indignities Continue

The Indignity Continues - Little Bay Park, Bayside Queens. An ecological dock on the waterfront is being proposed but there's no permanent toilet facility. The city’s more than seven-year delay in building comfort stations in Little Bay Park has been a source of contention. To add insult to injury, the porto-potties (above) are not always present. (Photo: Lori Gross)


If you build it, they will come—but where will they go?

That's what some are asking about a new proposal to build an Ecological Dock on the waterfront at Little Bay Park, where there's no permanent toilet facility, according to Bayside Patch.

Neighborhood activists have become increasingly frustrated with the NYC Parks Dept., because though $1.3 million dollars was allocated to build to build permanent washrooms in 2005 by then Councilman Tony Avella, D-Bayside, that money has not been put to use.

An additional $4.12 million in Congressional funds from Congressman Gary Ackerman, D-Bayside, for the purpose of expanding parking and to reconstruct an overpass near the entrance, was bundled with the bathroom funds, and also goes unused since it was allocated in 2004.

Last year, following inquiries by community members, NYC Comptroller John Liu did an audit, revealing that the Parks Dept. sometimes did not renew contracts, or offer them for contractor bidding in a timely fashion, though the Parks Dept. said they were not culpable.

The Parks Dept. had said that the replacement of porta potties—which are not always present at the park—with permanent bathrooms, is tied up with the approval of other agencies, like the Dept. of Environmental Protection.

The group that wants to install the new dock, which would be used for ecological education for kids, purports to have gotten fairly quick permission from the DEP to go ahead with their project.

"We’ve been able to permit them through State DEP very quickly," said Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance President and CEO Roland Lewis. His group expects to have the floating concrete dock built as sometime around the summer of 2014.

On first hearing that there was no bathroom in Little Bay Park, Lewis became concerned.

"If you’ve ever been around 20-30 school children, it’s very important that a bathroom be there," said Lewis, adding that his group would be, "happy to add our voice to the cries for the bathroom as well."

If that's the case, he may make fast friends with Warren Schreiber, President of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, and a proponent of the park upgrades.

"After comprehensive online research I am now of the opinion that an Eco Dock would be a wonderful recreational addition to Little Bay/Fort Totten Park. However, at this time, I can not in good conscience personally support this proposal," said Schreiber.

He believes that the projects will attract a larger number of park visitors, and should not move forward until parking lot expansion, and bathroom installation are completed.

"Seven years and still not a shovel-in-the-ground!" he added.

The Parks Dept. could not immediately render an update on the project, and were looking into it for Patch when an inquiry was made a few hours prior to publication, on April 20.

In November of 2011, the Parks Dept. had said the project was still awaiting approval by several other agencies, including the State Historic Preservation Office, because archaeological material was found nearby.

In subsequent inquiries by Patch to Friends of Fort Totten, the Bayside Historical Society, the Dept. of Transportation, and the State Historic Preservation Office itself, revealed that there have been no artifacts found within a half mile of the site.

"There’s been no archaeological material found at that site," said State Historic Preservation Office Spokesman Dan Keefe in November.

A Parks Dept. spokesman said at that time that there "must have been a miscommunication."

Read More:

As Plans For Park Bathroom Languish, Dock Construction May Zoom Ahead
Bayside Patch - April 20, 2012 - By Lori Gross

A Walk In The Park - December 1, 2011

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