Tag Archives: Gateway

Six months after Sandy, Charles Park gets clean-up


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File phoot

Frank M. Charles Memorial Park is getting spruced up.

With Sandy debris lingering nearly six months after the storm, Councilmember Eric Ulrich has partnered with the Doe Fund to help clean up the community park, which is run under the auspices of by Gateway National Recreation Area.

Nine “men in blue” from the Doe Fund, which finds work for homeless men and women, will help remove debris in what is considered a neighborhood park, although it’s under the National Park Service (NPS) umbrella.

Ulrich said he reached out to George McDonald, president and founder of the Doe Fund, after coverage of the park’s worsened condition following the storm.

“This was a reaction to the published newspaper reports about the terrible conditions in Charles Park,” Ulrich said.

The councilmember said further pressure had to be put on NPS to secure that Charles Park and other parts of Gateway get the same attention that parks across the country do.

“It’s an absolute disgrace,” Ulrich said of the delayed clean up, adding it should not have taken a storm like Sandy to bring the park’s conditions to the public eye. “The federal government has to live up to their obligation.”

McDonald, who partnered with Ulrich to bring workers to Broad Channel after the storm, said the program won’t only clean up the park, but give the crew a second chance.

“For the past 25 years, New Yorkers have been so generous to The Doe Fund and to the ‘men in blue’—helping their fellow New Yorkers to re-establish their careers and become fathers to their children,” McDonald said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to give back. I thank Councilmember Ulrich for thinking of us.”

Community Board 10 recently voiced opposition to a proposal from Gateway and NYC Parks Department that listed Charles Park as a possible site for concession stands, bike terminals or kayak launching bays. Board members first want the park to be cleaned up, and get more outreach from Gateway, before anything else comes in.

“It’s my understanding that Doe fund is volunteering labor to do it, which is certainly commendable,” said board chair Elizabeth Braton. “However, it does not remove the obligation of the Parks Service to provide continuous, ongoing maintenance at the facilities they are responsible for.”

 

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Community: Clean up park before allowing new development


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photos

Howard Beach residents just want their park cleaned up.

Before plans Frank M. Charles Memorial Park are made, Community Board 10 wants the joint effort between the NYC Parks Department and Gateway National Recreation Area to get more local input.

Board members on Thursday, April 4 unanimously voted on a resolution to ask the coalition to remove Charles Park from consideration in the development of Jamaica Bay until further measures are taken.

“That park is in deplorable condition. It has been in deplorable condition for years,” Board chair Elizabeth Braton told a Parks representative. “When the City of New York entered in this agreement where the Parks Department would be allowed to go into Gateway and do some things, it was not the expectation of the local community that the first thing the Parks Department would do is engage in a revenue-making operation there.”

Parks and Gateway, which is an arm of the National Park Service, formed an agreement last summer to help drive more tourism to Jamaica Bay. Requests for Proposals (RFPs) were released last month for developers to create bike terminals, kayak launching areas or food concession stands.

The goal is to have these stands open by this Memorial Day weekend, with Jacob Riis Park in Rockaway as another option for Queens, according to the Parks Department.

But residents want Charles Park, notoriously in poor shape, to be cleaned up before any other sort of new development comes in. Others were concerned this would put a revenue-driving source in a park and disrupt the neighborhood.

While representatives from Gateway didn’t speak at the April meeting, Lauren Standke, a project manager for NYC Parks, spoke to the Board on what the project entails. She said it was not a goal to make money off these stands, but rather, bring more people to south Queens.

Any developer who comes into Gateway would also have to maintain the 50 feet of parkland around the site, Standke said.

“We really wanted to release these Requests for Proposals so that we could get these concessions in place by the summer season,” Standke said in regard to the lack of community input on the RFPs. “I think that with the release of these Requests for Proposals the idea is really to shift the focus to these parks that people really haven’t visited before.”

 

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Howard Beach residents say Charles Park needs repairs


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Some Howard Beach residents want to make sure a local park is cleaned up before future development comes in.

Frank M. Charles Memorial Park, part of Gateway National Recreation Area and heavily damaged by Sandy, was listed as a site for potential concession stands, kayak launch bays or bike terminals in a request for proposal from NYC Parks Department and National Parks Service (NPS).

But Charles Park has been traditionally underfunded despite many facelift and cleanup efforts. It has experienced problems with athletic fields including broken fences and toppled mounds at its baseball fields that are used by locals.

Community Board 10 Chair Elizabeth Braton said while the board would be open to rebuilding Jamaica Bay, many members think replenishing the park should be NPS’ first priority before other attractions come in.

“The people in the community would be far more interested in seeing New York City Parks Department do some work on the ball parks there,” she said, “Or to work collaboratively with the federal parks people to get some real improvements there.”

Representatives from the Parks Department are scheduled to address Community Board 10 on Thursday, April 4, Braton said.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo said Charles Park has been underfunded because it competes with other parks nationwide, including Yosemite National Park and the Statue of Liberty.

If Charles Park is selected for one item in the project, Addabbo said he wants to see some federal money go into repairing the park. “We need to use some of the federal dollars to rebuild Charles Park,” he said.

Suzanne McCarthy, the deputy superintendent at Gateway, said in a statement that the proposals would help secure more funding, and the agency has future plans for the waterfront park.

“We see our request for proposal (RFP) with city parks as another opportunity for this community, not an obstacle to our continued clean up,” she said.

 

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