Tag Archives: Department of Parks & Recreation

Quiz asks: What NYC park are you?

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File Photo

With hundreds of parks in New York City, it is hard to find the right one to call your own.

The city’s Department of Parks & Recreation just put up a quick quiz on its website to match individuals with a local green space based on likes such as favorite food, book and vacation spot. 

Will you be Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Astoria Park, Juniper Valley Park or another Queens greenery?

To find out, take the quiz here.



Pricey park potty has patrons perplexed

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo by Robert Holden

Elmhurst Park patrons are happy to finally have somewhere to relieve themselves, but many feel the taxpayer funded, city-built bathroom flushed money down the drain.

The stylish comfort station, which underwent construction during the summer of 2011 and took over a year to complete, racked up a $2.3 million price tag.

Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, believes the money should have been allocated to a more pressing project, such as resurfacing the cracked and flooding tennis courts at Juniper Valley Park or increasing security after the recent spike in violent attacks in parks. Holden, who has an architecture background, said the Elmhurst Park bathrooms defy the steadfast design mantra of “form follows function.”

According to Holden, the cavernous structure only holds two urinals, one toilet and two sinks in the men’s half, and three stalls and two sinks on the women’s side — ill-equipped to service the six-and-a-half acre park that is visited by nearly hundreds of people daily.

“They look great,” said Holden. “It’s just when you get a price tag in these tough times, in these times of cutbacks — it’s a testament to the waste in government. You can build a mansion with five or six bathrooms for $2 million. It’s not anything special.”

Tony Nunziato, a Maspeth civic leader who works with the Juniper Parks Civic Association, consulted a private contractor for an estimate on how much the park bathroom should cost. The contractor estimated that such a facility would cost $600,000.

According to a Department of Parks & Recreation spokesperson, the project cost $2.3 million largely because of its location — formerly the site of gas tanks.

“The industrial history of the site required contractors that were familiar with the testing and monitoring requirements that were put in place to guarantee a safe construction process and final product. No contaminates were found,” said the spokesperson. “We can only say this because we put the appropriate monitoring plan in place and paid for independent professionals to implement them.”

The parks spokesperson said direct construction costs ran $1.9 million while the remaining funds went towards land surveying, soil testing and design and that the money used to build the bathrooms came from “mayoral funds.”

According to the parks spokesperson, the bathrooms are similar to other new comfort stations throughout the city and increased usage of public restrooms calls for sturdier building practices than may be used for private facilities. The Elmhurst Park bathrooms are outfitted with thicker gauge metal doors and all-steel sanitary piping to extend the structure’s lifetime, said the spokesperson.

In defense of the bathroom’s spacious interior, the parks spokesperson said this maneuver was a deliberate attempt to combat the most frequently voiced gripe among parkgoers.

“One of the most common complaints of our traditional comfort stations is that they are dark and cramped,” said the spokesperson. “The plan gives us a form that fits in well with the overall park design, and provides a light-filled spacious interior.”

Pol: Trees at root of flooding problem

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A local legislator lambasted the city for turning a blind eye to Queens homeowners tangled in sidewalk tree root problems.

The roots, which stretch out underground and penetrate through residential main sewer and water lines at least once a year, cause basement flooding and constant sewage backup, said State Senator Tony Avella.

But the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation, Avella said, has denied responsibility, saying the problems likely stem from “a pre-existing leak in the pipe itself.”

“Tree roots cannot damage sound pipes, but sometimes grow into a sewer line if there is already a leak because they follow water availability,” a Parks spokesperson said. “Therefore, the best way to prevent this from occurring is for the homeowner to have his or her sewer line repaired.”

In a November 25 letter to Avella, Parks Borough Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said maintenance and repair of sewer systems are the responsibility of property owners, later adding that homeowners may be eligible for reimbursement for monies spent clearing their sewer lines if they file a claim with the city’s comptroller within 90 days of the incident.

“For the city to deny responsibility that the roots can’t get into a pipe is ludicrous at best,” Avella said, adding that arborist groups he has spoken to agree the city’s position was indefensible. “Tree roots will invade the pipes.”

Jamaica homeowner Shah Ahmed said he’s been plagued by the issue for years and has to shell out at least $1,400 once, sometimes twice, a year to relieve flooding, replace carpeting and fix damages to his home.

“The water is stagnant everywhere. My plumber cleaned the sewer and showed me the roots that were in the pipe. This led to a sewer backup in my basement, creating a foul odor and a health hazard,” Ahmed, 64, said. “I complained to the Parks Department many times, but nothing happened.”

Lawrence McClean, district manager of Community Board 13, said the problem affects some 7,000 residents within the community board.

The area was once served by Jamaica Water Supply Company, which made pipe repairs, but when the city took over in 1996, homeowners were then held responsible for maintenance, McClean said.

“People who bought homes in Queens initially bought homes where the agreement was that repairs would be done by the service provider, only to have the city come in and say that situation has changed,” he said. “The damage done to people like this is insurmountable. If you have a family and you want to put your children in college, then you have to make a decision between paying for this and putting your children through college.”

Ozone Park set to get skate park

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

LONDON PLANE renderingw

Roll out the boards and set up the half pipe.

Ozone Park will soon be home to a large skate park, the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation confirmed.

Requests for proposals (RFP) to developers were released for the 10,350-square-foot skate park, which is planned to be completed by the end of 2013. It will be part of planned renovations to London Planetree Playground, officials said. The park will be bordered by Atlantic and 95th Avenues, and 88th and 89th Streets.

The skate park will include sets of two-, three- and five-step stairs, grind rails, hubba ledges, a stamped brick quarter pipe and a series of banks and slopes, according to the Parks Department. When completed, this will be the sixth city-run skate park in Queens. Others nearby are in the Rockaways and Forest Park.

Borough President Helen Marshall’s office is allocating $1 million, a source said, with Councilmember Eric Ulrich contributing more than $700,000 to the project. Along with the huge skate park, Planetree will get two basketball courts, adult fitness equipment, a walking path, trees, shrubs and sitting areas, according to the Parks Department.

Skaters in Woodhaven normally frequent the nearby Pathmark parking lot on Atlantic Avenue, said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Resident’s Block Association.

There can be a large number of skaters during the school year, Wendell said, after school has let out for the day. “During the school year, you’ll see kids hanging out there in the parking lot of Pathmark,” he said.

Creating a skate park came from a constituent’s complaint to Ulrich about the boarding in the Pathmark parking lot, the councilmember said. He took the idea to Marshall and asked for her support to update the park and make it more environmentally friendly. Marshall agreed to allocate the $1 million, he said, and his office paid the remainder.

Ulrich said the park, which he grew up playing in, would be a boon to the area and benefit residents.

“I think it’s going to be a wonderful amenity for the community,” he said. “And I’m grateful for the borough president’s support for sponsoring me on the project.”