In an about-face, the city’s Parks Department has cancelled its plans to reopen portions of Canarsie Park that have been under renovation, just days before the ribbon-cutting was scheduled to take place.
The reason, according to City Councilmember Lewis Fidler, who allocated funding for the park’s refurbishment, is that the agency recently discovered that the contractor on the project had done “a shoddy job.
“They are not going to cut the ribbon until after the summer,” Fidler added, expressing his disappointment and frustration with the delay. The ribbon-cutting had been scheduled for June 7th, to coordinate with the citywide cricket finals had been planned to be held on the park’s new cricket pitch, which is not yet completed.
“I am pretty upset,” Fidler acknowledged. “It’s six months overdue to begin with. I trust the Parks people to make the right call, but the entire process of Canarsie Park has been painstaking. This is phase one. I have already funded phase two, and I am looking to fund phase three this year. I hope a different contractor is used for phase two and three.”
Assemblymember Alan Maisel, who also represents the area, said he was “chagrined” by the news that the park would not be ready as planned. “I am very, very disappointed that the park is not going to open as quickly as I had hoped,” he stressed.
Neal Duncan, the president of the United Canarsie South Civic Association (UCSCA), said that the continued closure of large sections of the park would be inconvenient for area residents who had been looking forward to enjoying the newly renovated areas.
“It’s going on two years or more since they started construction,” Duncan remarked. “It’s been three or four years since the initial planning and fight for it. We were expecting at least by the end of the summer to be able to use the park.”
The need is great, Duncan added. He noted that the crowds at Canarsie Pier and in open areas of the park during Memorial Day weekend presaged a busy season to come. In addition, Duncan said he expected more local groups to make use of the park, as it became increasingly expensive to rent buses for trips to more distant locales.
If the rest of the park could be opened, Duncan said, “It would alleviate a lot of the overcrowding we’re expecting this summer.
“I’m disappointed,” Duncan added, recalling that his organization had repeatedly questioned the progress of the park rehabilitation.
“But, at least Parks is listening to what we’ve been saying all along,” he stressed. “Hopefully, now that they realize there are a lot of deficiencies, they will rectify them before turning the park over to the community. We’d rather have a 100 percent deficiency-free park than have deficiencies we have to live with for the next 10 or 20 years.”
Called for comment, the Parks Department acknowledged the change in schedule, without much elaboration.
“Construction delays have pushed back the opening of Canarsie Park that was originally scheduled for June 7th,” said Phil Abramson, an agency spokesperson, in an email. “Grass has not grown sufficiently to host this weekend’s cricket tournament and that has been moved to Spring Creek Park. We will continue to work on completing the rest of the park’s improvements.”
The groundbreaking for the work now underway – which includes the cricket field, the picnic grove, meadows, fencing, benches and pathways — took place in April, 2006. The first funding for the park project was allocated in 2003.
Canarsie Park, which stretches south of Seaview Avenue from Paerdegat Avenue North past East 93rd Street, is 132 acres in size, making it the fourth largest park in the borough.