They asked for it.
Marine Parkers who pined for a renovated park are miffed the gussying up is going to take so long. Locals have been clamoring for years that the neighborhood green space needed sprucing up, but now that the $6.15 million project is underway, tennis and basketball courts will be off limits for 17 months, and park-goers are crying foul, according to the area councilman.
“Some people said ‘Why are they doing this?’ — and we said ‘You asked for this,’ ” said Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Marine Park). “You can’t do it any other way.”
The project, scheduled to be completed in March 2017, will address much-needed repairs to the bocce, basketball, handball, and tennis courts in the park, which have had local sports fans grumbling for years. Cracks in the tennis courts have evolved into safety hazards in the years since the city last paved it, creating a hazard for players that’s led to a few bad spills, according to Marine Parker Sandra Auliera, 62.
“It was cracked, and it was dangerous,” said Auliera, who admitted to tripping over the cracks on one occasion.
Auriela was naturally happy to hear that the courts are under repair, but she’s not thrilled they’ll be off limits so long and she’d liked to have gotten a little notice about the temporary closure, she said.
“The thing that pissed me off is that I had no notifications,” said Auliera. “I went to the Hamptons, came back, and there were bulldozers. I showed up with the racket and everything.”
The renovations have been a long time coming — attempts to gussy up the park go back eight years, but funding was scarce and the city’s aesthetic gatekeepers stalled improvements to bocce courts for years. Former Councilman Lew Fidler appropriated more than $5 million for the project since 2012, but the city Public Design Commission’s aesthetic nit-pickery stalled renovation projects.
Bocce players griped last year that they’d rather play on rotten courts than risk a drawn-out reconstruction process, but the parks department gave bowlers a temporary court to hurl bocce.