The city’s Parks Department broke ground this week on the much sought-after Little Bay Park restroom, setting a course to finally replace the port-a-potties that became the heart of contention among many park-goers.
“Next week’s groundbreaking will mark the much-anticipated start of construction at Little Bay Park, as well as the end of our planning process for this complex coastal project” said Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski.
The lambasted portable toilets will remain in the park until the fall of 2014, when the project is expected to finish.
When all work is done, the park will boast a new restroom and an expanded 224-car parking lot. It will also feature landscape elements known as bioswales geared at filtering storm-water runoff to reduce the workload of the underlying infrastructure. New trees and shrubs will also be planted, and new utilities will be connected to the park. The modifications and additions will cost $5.04 million.
The road to approval for the project was long. The use of some federal funds required review by the state Department of Transportation; the nearby coastal wetlands demanded the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the city Department of Environmental Protection give their approval, and the State Historic Preservation Office also needed to give the go-ahead.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) recalled his days wrangling red tape to make the project a reality during his time in the City Council.
“After years of bureaucratic delays, I am pleased that this project will finally commence next week,” he said. “A comfort station at a great park like Little Bay Park has been long overdue and I shared in the community’s frustration regarding this long-delayed project. With construction set to begin next week, park users can take comfort in the fact that soon enough they will finally be able to utilize a comfort station at Little Bay Park.”
The new restroom can only be an improvement to the current state of the park, said Bay Terrace Community Alliance President Warren Schreiber.
“The architectural renderings are visually appealing and in line with what was discussed at the scope meetings,” he said. “There should be no complaints as long as the finished product resembles that design.”