Thursday, April 26, 2012
Sunday, April 22, 2012
The coastal areas of College Point are about to get a face-lift, but the city still plans to perform construction in the isolated neighborhood and then give the accompanying amenities to Douglaston, according to Times Ledger.
In late spring, the city Parks Department is set to begin making improvements to the interior pathways of MacNeil Park and has nearly finished reconstructing the comfort station and improving site drainage, according to a department spokesman.
The projects are part of more than $1.2 million that the department is using to spruce up the greenspace, Parks said.
But the money, allocated by elected officials, is still not enough to fix the sinkholes that plague the coastal walkway.
Borough President Helen Marshall and City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) allocated $425,000 to fix the interior pathways, and Marshall designated a further $800,000 to reconstruct the comfort station and improve drainage.
But to fix the sinkholes, the department would also have to fix related seawall problems, which it does not have the cash to do, a spokesman said.
Parks is currently seeking funding for such a project, which James Cervino, a marine and earth scientist who lives in the neighborhood, testified about at a recent budget hearing.
Cervino wants the seawall project to be included in Marshall’s budget for the coming fiscal year. Large rocks called riprap need to be restacked in front of the seawall in a neater fashion to prevent water from eroding the soil underneath the pathways and creating the sinkholes, Cervino said.
The city Department of Environmental Protection is also working to make College Point a little greener, but critics charge that the department should be doing more.
DEP now is creating wetlands at the end of Powell’s Cove Park, and when the project is complete, the area will have less invasive plant species, restored landscaping in the park and more than 3,500 trees and shrubs.
But the department is also putting resources into a restoration in Douglaston that community leaders think should stay in College Point.
DEP plans to do sewer work in College Point as part of an overall plan to clean up Flushing Bay. To offset the inconvenience of construction, DEP offered to put more resources into a wetland restoration, but decided to make the improvements in Udall’s Cove.
In February, Cervino, also a member and environmental adviser to Community Board 7, had previously blasted the department for giving the amenities outside of College Point, even though the neighborhood will bear the burden of construction.
A spokesman for DEP confirmed that the department’s plans have not changed.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
|Out Of Order - Franz Siegel Bathroom. It's closing leaves no other bathroom facilities for the entire 16 acre park. The park's other comfort station closed two decades ago. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/ NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.|
|Members of the Canabacoa baseball club. The closed comfort Station is behind them.|
The comfort station has been closed since April 1st, when the Parks department discovered the missing valves.
Friday, April 20, 2012
Just hours after the news broke that someone had illegally lopped off the tops of a pair of trees that obscured a giant Tribeca Film Festival and Heineken billboard, the beer company offered to replace the mutilated trees, accordng to DNAinfo.
A Heineken representative said the company was in no way behind the "reprehensible" pruning on the southwest corner of West Houston Street and West Broadway but would nonetheless shoulder the burden of replanting.
"We will replace the trees at our expense," a Heineken spokeswoman said Friday morning after DNAinfo broke the story on the trees, adding that the brewery will be advised by the New York Tree Trust, a program of the Parks Department.
"We will rely on the Tree Trust to advise us on the appropriate type and size of tree," she said.
The timing of the replacement of the 10-year-old honey locusts, which locals noticed earlier this month had been chopped, was not yet clear.
A Parks Department spokeswoman said she was unaware of Heineken's offer.
"NYC Parks wants to take this opportunity to remind the public that arborcide is a serious crime," she said. "We urge anyone who may have information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator or perpetrators to report it by calling 311."
It's illegal to damage trees on city property, and violations can be punishable by fines as much as $15,000 and a year in prison, according to the Parks department website.
Heineken will continue to look into whether a third-party installer of the four-story ad attached to the side of a building has any knowledge of what happened, the company spokeswoman said.
"In no way was this action sanctioned by us," she said. "We had nothing to do with it and we find it to be reprehensible."
Tribeca Film Festival previously said it had no knowledge of work performed on the trees, and billboard owner Fuel Outdoor did not respond to multiple calls for comment.
TriBeCa resident and certified citizen tree pruner Steve Boyce, 60, said he appreciated the replacement of the trees on high-traffic West Houston Street.
"It's definitely a gesture, and it's greatly appreciated," he said.
Boyce suggested the city pursue a long-term solution to conflicts with the owners of billboards in high-traffic areas. "This is a cat-and-mouse game," he said. "The city and billboard owners could either make sure trees [in front of billboards] are trimmed or that there are just no trees there."
But recently the New York City Parks Department has allowed the acre-sized playground to close later and later. Longtime residents fear that approach will lead to history repeating itself.
“You can already see the semblance of gang activity here,” said Al D’Angelo, president of the Morris Park Community Association who has lived in the area for 38 years. He is now dealing with a spike in neighborhood complaints because the Parks Department has kept the gates open later, inviting a gang element into the park.
In a meeting on Wednesday, April 4, residents reported seeing gang members from the Bloods and Crips milling around in the park for upwards to 11 p.m. Graffiti and garbage are also making a comeback, according to D’Angelo.
“It’s going to disintegrate back to what it was 10 years ago,” said D’Angelo.
The park, named after crooked colonial pol David Matthews and Dutch settler Thomas Muliner, was not a bucolic spot during the early 2000s.
“Stabbings, wholescale drug activity, people getting mugged,” were some of the activity associated with Matthews Muliner, according to D’Angelo. The crime element kept homeowners indoors, fearful for their life.
“Once this park gets out from under us, we are done for as homeowners,” said a Morris Park neighbor, who requested to remain anonymous.
Zachary Feder, a Parks Department spokesman, said there is no agreement that the park closes its gates at 6 p.m.
“Like all of our playgrounds, Matthews Muliner Playground closes at dusk,” said Feder. “During these warmer months, with more hours of daylight and dusk arriving later, people will have more time to enjoy the park.”
Mohammed Mirza, a 15 year-old teen who goes to the park, stands behind the Parks Department.
“Nobody wants to go home early,” said Mirza. “I live across the street from this park I want to play.”
The last three weeks have seen little to no incidents, according to D’Angelo. The 49th Precinct’s Deputy Inspector Kevin Nicholson said his officers constantly patrol the area, but unless there is crime happening inside the park, arrests cannot be made.
“They’re not breaking any laws,” said Nicholson. “We can’t lock anyone up for being in the park.”
The community has requested a representative from the Parks Department to attend one of the group’s upcoming meetings. So far the Parks Department has not respond.
Read More:Bronx Times - April 18, 2012 - By David Cruz
WPIX - April 20, 2012 - By Monica Morales