From the office of City Councilman Chaim Deutsch:
Archive for the tag 'parks'
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
An Upside To All That Snow: Soil’s Salt Levels Dropping From Post-Sandy High, Meaning Greener Spring Ahead
Residents of Manhattan Beach weren’t the only ones affected by Superstorm Sandy in that area. Jonathan Pywell, the director of forestry for New York City Parks Department, told community members during a meeting held by the Manhattan Beach Community Group that many of the trees in their area were going to be removed because of damages they sustained during the storm.
“The trees here were devastated,” Pywell said. He then explained that after the storm they had inspected the area and decided to remove 250 trees. “And it sounds like a lot. Well, it is.”
Sandy’s surge doused all of Manhattan Beach, and while many recall the word “surge” as the point of destruction, for the trees in the neighborhood the true damage happened after. As the water seeped into the soil, the salt went to work on the roots, killing much of them. Pywell and his team of six (and only six) use a percentage scale to determine how thorough the damage is. Anything below 50 percent is considered likely to die, at which point the tree has to be removed.
“We’re trying to find a balance between saving trees and public safety,” Pywell told the community members, explaining that once a tree dies there’s a chance of it coming down on people and property. “The reality is there’s a fine line we have to travel.”
The residents in the audience had no doubt witnessed tree removals in the area since the removal process picked up the pace a few months ago. Out of the 250 trees that were slated for removal – using a roofing nail to indicate the unlucky trees – 75 have already been removed. The 180 that are left will be removed over the course of the year.
But the news isn’t all bad. Pywell told Sheepshead Bites that because of all the rain and snow over the winter season, some of the salt left behind by the storm is being washed away.
“What we’re finding is the sites we sampled have less salt,” he said. Just how extensive this reduction may be is still unclear. Pywell and his team will have to first conduct another inspection of the area (as well as other areas in Brooklyn, as his team serves the entire borough) before he will know for sure how much salt has been removed.
Many residents were concerned that the removal of so many trees would leave the neighborhood barren and ugly. But Pywell explained that they are working on replacing the trees in the area. And the city is also still giving away trees for free. And as the city and Pywell begin to replace the trees, they plant with the idea that another storm will come.
“Diversity is important for resiliency,” he said and explained that the majority of the trees in the area were London Plain trees, a type that is especially vulnerable to salt water. And so he said that the city would replace removed trees with ones that can deal with “wet feet,” or a mild exposure to salt water.
“This area could potentially flood again,” he said. “I know you don’t want to hear that.”
The Parks Department will be spending $2.6 million to fix the bathroom in Bill Brown Playground in Sheepshead Bay. The money is just for the bathroom – not the whole park – which raises the question of whether or not that’s too much money for one bathroom.
While Sheepshead Bay and the surrounding areas can sometimes have their domestic eccentricities, many residents are questioning the need for a seemingly large amount of money, according to a Daily News article.
Parkgoers were relieved to hear about the restoration, though a few held their nose when told how much it costs.
“The place is a wreck, but that’s a lot of money,” said Serena Schallenberg, 33, as she watched her two kids frolic in the park on Thursday.
But at the same time, the Daily News describes a bathroom that is severely deteriorating”
The red brick, beach-style comfort station, which includes a basement, is falling apart.
Many of the windows and lights are shattered, the roof leaks and the sewer line backs up.
It generally costs about $1 million to repair or install a new park bathroom, park insiders said.
Still, parks officials downplayed what some suggest will be the most expensive public bathroom in Brooklyn.
“There is no standard repair cost,” said Parks spokeswoman Meghan Lalor. “Everything depends on what the scope of repair is.”
But a question that wasn’t addressed why hadn’t repairs been made earlier, when the price of fixing it would’ve been cheaper to do?
This isn’t the first time a recreational space with the namesake of World War I veteran Bill Brown has been the site of an overhaul. We reported in January that the Square near Sheepshead Bay Road had lost all its green grass. Sheepshead Bites contacted the Parks Department at the time for comment.
According to a Parks Department employee, the greenstreet was flooded during Superstorm Sandy, killing the spruce tree and several shrubs at the site. The agency told Sheepshead Bites that they plan to replant the area in the spring, using salt tolerant shrubs.