Thursday, April 7, 2011

Parks Department Barricades Public Road On Staten Island, Enraging Borough President Yet Again

Molinaro called Parks "arrogant" and "condescending" and said that the agency failed to consult local officials before making the incursion.

"It’s a fight," Molinaro said. "You have to watch everything they do. I’ve had it up to here with them."

Barrier placed by Parks Department to delineate footpath to Seaside Nature Park has upset residents and Borough President James Molinaro. (Photo: Staten Island Advance/Jan Somma-Hammel)

Staten Island

Staten Island officials have a simple solution to a traffic problem that would ease congestion on Hylan Boulevard and help emergency vehicles and Great Kills residents better and more safely navigate the neighborhood.

But they say that the Parks Department has not only been uncooperative in making it happen, but has literally -- and illegally -- built roadblocks that stand in the way, according to the Staten Island Advance.

However, Parks doesn’t see it that way.

The battlefield in the latest skirmish between the Island and the Parks Department is Tennyson Drive.

Borough President James P. Molinaro and City Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-South Shore) said that Parks has illegally paved and built a barrier in the roadway on Tennyson near Seaside Nature Park, a city playground on the Cleveland Avenue side of the thoroughfare.

Molinaro, who said he plans to take Parks to court over the incursion, said that the right of way where the incursion occurred is actually owned by a builder with a project under way in the area who is committed to building out the roadway.

Molinaro called Parks "arrogant" and "condescending" and said that the agency failed to consult local officials before making the incursion.

"It’s a fight," Molinaro said. "You have to watch everything they do. I’ve had it up to here with them."

Without addressing the legality of the incursion, a Parks spokesman said the agency’s design does not prevent the developer from building out the road.

The agency said Parks paved "a small section" of Tennyson because a pathway was needed to provide access to Seaside Nature Park. Prior to this, Parks said, there was no access to the park from Cleveland.

The agency said it is working on a "memorandum of understanding" with the developer in order to maintain the path.

The lawmakers also want an unbuilt, city-owned portion of Tennyson Drive near the planned Crescent Beach Park to be paved.

But they told the Advance that Parks wants to hold on to the roadbed, between Robinson and Armstrong avenues, for possible use as a pedestrian pathway or bike lane for the future park.

Tennyson runs parallel to Hylan Boulevard and having it fully open would help motorists in the neighborhood and would also remove traffic from congested Hylan, Molinaro and Ignizio said.

They said having that chunk of the road closed off endangers public safety by making it more difficult for firetrucks and ambulances to make their way into the neighborhood from Hylan because of a dearth of left-turn lanes.

Molinaro said Parks’ action amounted to an act of "arrogance" and "defiance" and that the agency acted without consulting local officials.

"To do that to me, knowing what I need ... " Molinaro said of his desire to build out more of the road.

Borough Engineer Michael Nagy said that there is more than enough room in the 80-foot streetbed to build a standard 60-foot road and leave space for bikers or pedestrians who want to use the park.

"We’re being stopped by our own colleagues in government," said City Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-South Shore). "We can’t do this with one hand tied behind our backs."

The agency said it is "not building anything" to preclude the road from being further developed. A planned pedestrian walkway for the beach, Parks said, is in the park confines and would not interfere with any development of the road that is adjacent to the park.

Molinaro, who also battled Parks over the opening of roads in the new city park in the former Fresh Kills landfill and over the building of Bloomingdale Park, is especially angered because his office has allocated more than $60 million to the agency since 2002.

"I’m not an enemy," he said. "I’ve given more money for parks than the other four borough presidents combined."

Read More:

Staten Island Advance - April 07, 2011 - By Tom Wrobleski

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