Archive for the tag 'parks'

A Con Edison employee was repairing the wiring yesterday (Source: Aliza

A Con Edison employee was repairing the wiring yesterday (Photo by Aliza Chasan)

By Aliza Chasan

Two years after Superstorm Sandy, one park in Gravesend is just now getting power back.

Though the streets in the area didn’t see much above-ground flooding, the storm’s salt waters managed to corrode the underground wiring serving the park at the corner of McDonald Avenue and Avenue S. As a result, the McDonald Playground bathrooms have been locked to keep people from injuring themselves in an unlit bathroom.

“Babies, if they want bathroom, they can’t go and it’s a problem for parents,” Olga Sianashka, 38, said. “I’m all the time playing with my children here and it’s not working,” she said about the bathroom.

It took some time for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to become aware of the problem as the power lines serving the park don’t supply electricity to any area houses.

Once Phil Mazzeo, a Parks Department electrician, found out, he checked the park’s property box and found the Con Ed wires were destroyed. After that, it was a matter of waiting for Con Ed to come out.

“I called 311 maybe five or six times,” Aliza Krassallosik, 40, said. “Why can’t the public go to the bathroom as well?”

Bobbie Colon, 37, said the bathroom situation is “outrageous” and that the park’s problems go beyond a locked bathroom.

“This was a really nice park five years ago, but now it’s someplace you really don’t want to come to.”

Source: NYC Parks Department

In their battle against weeds and vermin, the New York City Parks Department is using a common pesticide that a new study suggests is associated with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and breast cancer.

The new concerns arise out of a study published in April by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health that found that the commercially available pesticide Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, is associated with lymphoma. A report this morning in DNAinfo found that the city has sprayed Roundup in public greenspaces more than 1,300 times last year alone.

The outlet reports:

The Parks Department sprays the pesticide, called Roundup, to kill weeds that harbor rats on “little-used” areas near playgrounds, officials said. The city posts warning signs for 24 hours before and after spraying.

“In order to keep rats out of the playgrounds and meadow areas, we must use Roundup,” Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson said. “It is not used inside playgrounds but is often used on little-used slopes outside playgrounds precisely because overgrown weeds near playgrounds harbor rats.”

The city defended its use of Roundup, which was sprayed in public parks 1,365 times in 2013. That was a 22 percent increase from the previous year as officials phased out other weed-killing chemicals that were deemed more toxic, according to a Health Department report.

The agency would not tell the outlet which parks had been sprayed, or how often.

The outlet also noted a study published last year suggesting that glyphosate effects hormones linked to breast cancer.

While extreme critics say the city should stop using pesticides in parks altogether, some say it’s sufficient to leave signs up for 72 hours after spraying, not 24. However, the city cites statistics from the manufacturer, Monsanto, that claim the product becomes harmless after 24 hours. The agency also insists that pesticides are not sprayed in commonly used areas, but only along overgrown, out-of-the-way sections.

As for Monsanto, they’re dismissing the study’s conclusion.

“Comprehensive toxicological studies repeated over the last 40 years have time and again demonstrated that glyphosate…does not cause cancer, mutagenic effects, nervous system effects, immune system effects, endocrine disruption, birth defects or reproductive problems,” company spokeswoman Charla Lord told DNAinfo.

Although it appears the city will continue to use pesticides in playgrounds, the state has banned pesticides from use in other child-friendly areas.

In 2010, Governor Paterson signed the Child Safe Playing Field Act, which prohibits schools and day care centers from applying pesticides to any playground, turf or athletic playing field out of concern for children’s health.

According to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, HealthGuidance:

Potential harm from pesticides is especially important to consider in schools and day care centers because children are at greater risk from chemical exposure. Children are not little adults – from infants to teens, they are growing and developing. Their bodies have not yet reached developmental maturity. This means that they are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of many pesticides and other chemicals. Behaviors of young children, such as putting things in their mouths and crawling on the floor, put them at additional risk from pesticide exposure.

From the office of City Councilman Chaim Deutsch:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Photos of the staging area at the Fountain Avenue landfill. (Source: GooseWatch NYC)

Photos of the staging area at the Fountain Avenue landfill. (Source: GooseWatch NYC)

Another day, another animal in the cross-hairs of the wildlife gestapo.

In the wacky world of wildlife preservation, we’ve seen battles rage over swans and cats in the past few weeks, and now concerns are being revived about the annual plans to round up and euthanize Canada geese.

The latest comes from GooseWatch NYC, an advocacy group that since 2010 has been sounding the alarm on the city’s annual goose culling. They say that members have spotted USDA Wildlife Services agents, which the city and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey contracts to manage the swan population, setting up a staging area at Canarsie’s Fountain Avenue Landfill (which has been folded into the wildlife refuge and is in the process of $20 million ecological restoration). Trucks with the USDA logo were photographed, along with kayaks, crates and corral gates used to round up the birds before carting them off for lethal gassing.

Such culling usually happens around this time every year, as Canada geese go through their molting period, hampering their flying ability and making them easier to capture.

The group is outraged, as they are every year, especially since the area is now part of the wildlife refuge. They also say that, following the 1,000 goose culling over the last two years, there are just a few dozen remaining in Jamaica Bay, suggesting that the agency seeks total annihilation and not just population control.

“It’s now obvious that the USDA intends to kill every last Canada goose they can at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, a supposed safe haven for these creatures,” said David Karopkin, GooseWatch NYC’s founder, in a press release. “There is no need to kill these birds. It’s obscene and tragic, and the public has a right to know what our government is doing.”

The annual goose slaughters began in 2009 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The population reduction is being done to reduce collisions with jets at local airports, including JFK airport, located adjacent to the wildlife refuge, although critics say alternate methods, including radar upgrades, could do the trick more efficiently.

GooseWatch is also taking issue with the current mayor, who they say is walking back his campaign promise to seek out more humane ways to manage the population and reduce air strikes.

“Mayor de Blasio committed to put every approach on the table and work with independent experts and animal advocates, but now instead we’re learning that the cruel and ineffective goose removals will continue in NYC this summer, and perhaps for years to come,” said Karopkin.

A petition has been launched to end the lethal culling of geese in New York City. Another group, Friends of Animals, is planning a protest outside of the Port Authority’s headquarters (225 Park Avenue South) on Thursday, June 26, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The head of the New York City Office of Recovery and Resiliency is getting behind the Bloomberg-era plan to replace the Riegelmann Boardwalk’s wooden slats with concrete, saying that concrete fared better in Superstorm Sandy.

Recovery chief Daniel Zarrilli testified before the City Council last Thursday, telling them that the choice of concrete was a “sound” decision since it performs better in storms.

He added that the de Blasio administration will continue to replace the wooden boards with concrete going forward.

Bloomberg made the decision to replace the boardwalk with concrete after instituting a citywide ban on tropical hardwood in public projects, the material the boardwalk, as well as other fixtures like benches, have historically been made of. It has been fought for several years by locals who want to see the iconic wood stay, and they even filed suit against the city in 2012. Several compromises were sought, including using alternate wood materials, plastic and a combination of all three – although the city made clear its preference for concrete.

But the announcement that the new administration will stick with the plan because it performed well in Sandy is sure to be challenged by critics. In the wake of the storm, locals said that the concrete allowed sand to pile up on the boardwalk, and also served as a less effective buffer protecting the community from the flooding. They also say the concrete accelerates erosion and is less effective at drainage during storms.

The two councilmembers whose districts overlap the boardwalk, Chaim Deutsch and Mark Treyger, both support using wood.

Plumb Beach Bike Path Destroyed By Hurricane Ida

The bike path in 2009, just days after it was hit by a nor’easter. This unsalvageable section was ultimately ripped apart and covered in sand and gravel, and has stayed that way since.

It looks like we’ll be going our fourth consecutive summer without the Plumb Beach bike path, which was destroyed by a nor’easter in November 2009.

But, if all goes according to plan, cyclists will finally be able to enjoy uninterrupted rides from Emmons Avenue to the larger Jamaica Bay Greenway by fall, as the Parks Department has confirmed that they anticipate construction to begin this August.

“We are concurrently in the process of registering funds for the project, and awaiting approval from DEC. The scope of work includes the reconstruction of eroded portions of the asphalt bike path. The two segments we will address comprise a total of approximately 450 linear feet. We anticipate construction to begin at the end of August 2014,” wrote Parks spokesperson Meghan Lalor in an e-mail to Sheepshead Bites.

To strip the bureaucratic speak, what it basically means is that money is in the pot for the construction, and they’re working through the red tape to ensure all relevant agencies are on board.

Lalor noted that it’s too soon to say whether the project would be done in-house by the Parks Department, or bid out to a contractor (which could potentially delay the process).

Cyclists have made the dangerous decision to ride on the Belt Parkway rather than dismount or walk through sand.

It’s been a long road in getting a mere 450 feet of asphalt put down. It was destroyed when Hurricane Ida – by then a nor-easter – made landfall in 2009. The waves not only battered the bike path, but diminished several feet of sand from the beach and exposed the Belt Parkway to flooding (a problem that was addressed only mere days before Superstorm Sandy).

In 2010, the city pulled a fake-out, getting the strip ready for repaving… and then calling it quits and vanishing.

Relief seemed to be in sight in 2012, when $9 million in improvements to the area were unveiled, including long-term fixes at Plumb Beach and the development of Brigham Street Park. Then-Councilman Lew Fidler told Sheepshead Bites that some of those funds would cover the bike path repair, yet the Parks Department later said that, in fact, none of the allocated funds would be put to the reconstruction.

Finally, last summer, Fidler informed Sheepshead Bites that he had allocated $450,000 in the Fiscal Year 2014 city budget specifically for shore up the bike path and laying new asphalt. While most Parks projects take three to four years from funding to completion, Fidler predicted – correctly, it seems – that this project would move more quickly.

Source: FriendsofOceanParkway.org

Our friend Allen Shweky of Friends of Ocean Parkway notes that the Department of Transportation has kicked off the latest round of rehabilitation along the nation’s second oldest parkway.

The east mall of the corridor between Avenue N and Kings Highway is closed off to pedestrians, as the city preps to redo the asphalt, landscaping and benches. Shweky said there’s no timeline for the work.

The entire length of the mall has seen major construction over the last few years, with the most recent stretch being completed in 2012. Work stopped then until fresh funding was allocated through Councilman David Greenfield’s office.

Shweky writes that the section most in need remains untouched:

The real immediate work that really needs to be done on the west mall between Avenue U and Avenue X remains a dangerous hazard especially to bike riders.  Seems that that critical part of the entire mall renovation project is still a long way off.

holocaust Memorial park nyc

The eternal light at the center of Holocaust Memorial Park was extinguished during Superstorm Sandy. Now, 17 months later, the light is shining again.

News came from the offices of Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who said the councilman worked with the Parks Department to repair the facilities there.

“Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once said, ‘To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time,’ with these poignant words in mind, I am proud to announce that my efforts in conjunction with the Holocaust Memorial Park Committee to have the park’s eternal flame relit have been successful,” Deutsch said in a statement. “This flame, which was extinguished during Hurricane Sandy, will once again shine brightly, symbolizing our resiliency, and reminding future generations of one of the darkest periods in the history of man, and insure that we never forget, and never again allow such human injustice and genocide to occur in the future.”

It’s not so clear if the light was actually on before Superstorm Sandy. The 15-foot-tall fixture has been problematic for years, with park stewards complaining that it frequently goes out and can take the Parks Department long stretches to replace it.

During one incident in 2010, the bulb was out for several weeks. Parks Department replaced it, but it failed again several days later.

Delays in replacing it can happen because of the city’s procurement policies. The custom bulb needs to be ordered in bulk, and if none are on hand parkgoers will have to wait for the city’s next big order.

But Deutsch’s office said that the problems from Sandy went far beyond the bulb. The light’s electrical wires were damaged from the salt water and needed to be completely replaced. The department sought to do it in February, but the snowstorms pushed delays to the end of March.

Source: NYC Parks Department

Source: NYC Parks Department

The following is a press release from the offices of Councilman Chaim Deutsch:

New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D-Brooklyn), in an ongoing effort to improve parks in the 48th District, will host a Town Hall Meeting at PS 195 Thursday, April 3rd at 7 PM, inviting community members to share their thoughts and propose upgrades for Manhattan Beach Park, a major recreational park and popular destination.

This is the second in a series of Town Hall Meetings Council Member Deutsch will host in an effort to involve residents in plans to improve our local parks.

“I am working hard to improve our community’s parks,” said Council Member Chaim Deutsch. “I invite all area residents to attend this important Town Hall Meeting, share their vision of the park, and take a hand in shaping its future.”

Manhattan Beach Park, located off Oriental Boulevard between Ocean Avenue and Mackenzie Street, is home to baseball fields, beaches, playgrounds, sprinklers, and a dog run, in addition to basketball, tennis, handball and volleyball courts.

Council Member Deutsch’s Town Hall Meeting will give park goers an opportunity to weigh in on the future of Manhattan Beach Park. Those in attendance are encouraged to share their knowledge of the park, best usage, and point out facilities that may require repair or maintenance. In addition, community members will be given an opportunity to propose capital projects, which Councilman Deutsch will discuss with Parks Department officials for funding consideration.

“Take advantage of this opportunity to make Manhattan Beach Park a better place,” said Councilman Deutsch.

The Town Hall Meeting will be held in the auditorium at PS 195 [131 Irwin St. between Shore and Oriental boulevards] Thursday, April 3, at 7 PM.

The Asser Levy Park bandshell in better days. (Source: senarchitects.com)

The Asser Levy Park bandshell in better days. (Source: senarchitects.com)

The following is a press release from the offices of Councilman Chaim Deutsch:

New York City Council Member Chaim Deutsch (D-Brooklyn), a strong advocate for improving all parks within the 48th district, will host a town hall meeting at Trump Village on Monday, March 24th, inviting community members to discuss their thoughts regarding necessary upgrades to Asser Levy (Seaside) Park, a popular location for rest, relaxation and recreation, which has fallen into disrepair.

(PREVIOUSLY ON SHEEPSHEAD BITES: Deutsch calls for demolition of Asser Levy Seaside Park bandshell.)

“Asser Levy Park has the potential to become a more enjoyable park,” said Council Member Chaim Deutsch. “It’s time we give the park some overdue attention, and begin working towards regenerating the lost splendor of this valuable resource.”

Asser Levy Park, located off Ocean Parkway between Sea Breeze and Surf Avenues, is home to a playground, hand ball courts, greenery, fitness path and a band shell; all requiring maintenance.

At the town hall meeting, Council Member Deutsch will be asking his constituents to share their vision on how to improve Asser Levy Park. In particular, the Councilman would like to gauge the public’s interests as he determines whether the city’s efforts should be directed towards repairing the rundown facilities currently located at the park, or replacing them with new projects favored by the community. Council Member Deutsch will also explore possibilities for supplementing the park with additional greenery in an effort to enhance the park’s natural beauty.

“Asser Levy Park should become everything that the community wants it to be,” said Council Member Deutsch. “It’s for this reason, that I hope you’ll join me in discussing this important issue and contribute your ideas on how to improve Asser Levy Park.”

The town hall meeting will be held in the Community Room at Trump Village Section 4 [2928 W. Fifth Street between Neptune and Surf Avenues] Monday, March 24, 7 PM.

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