Repairing the seawall in Queensbridge Park has been talked about for well over a decade. Last Friday those plans came to fruition when politicians, the Parks Department and dedicated neighborhood advocates dipped their symbolic golden shovels into a pre-dug pile of dirt to commence construction.
The $6.65 million project will raise the crumbling seawall separating the park from the East River in the most northern section of Long Island City across from the Queensbridge Houses. Plans also call for a 6-foot-wide promenade with benches, plantings and a small wharf at its northern end.
The chain-link fence will come down and pedestrians will be able to go up to the seawall’s lip, made up of riprap — large rocks. The city plans to finish the project by next summer.
Repair of the seawall, which keeps Hurricane Sandy in mind, will protect equipment for the F train.
“F train delays are coming from the seawall,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-Queens, Manhattan). “For too long, the only view of this waterfront has been through a chain-linked fence. Queensbridge Park will now be a gateway to the waterfront instead of a dead end.”
About 20 years ago the federal government studied the wall, finding nothing wrong with the foundation, according to Maloney. She went back to officials with findings that the wall was affecting the electrical equipment for the subway.
They changed their findings, but then the city decided it would take over the project.
Then in 2005 plans were drawn up, but “for five years nothing happened,” Maloney said. Friday’s ceremony was a large step forward.
The seawall and promenade construction will be managed by the city’s Economic Development Corp. and funded with $3.65 million allocated by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), $1 million allocated by Borough President Helen Marshall, $1 million allocated by Mayor Bloomberg and $1 million from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Now that a completion date has been set on the seawall, Van Bramer has his sights set on the park house near the Queensboro Bridge. The Parks Department estimates restoration of it would cost $2.5 million.
Maloney, state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria), Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Sunnyside), the EDC, LIC resident Elizabeth McQueen, founder of Friends of Queensbridge Park, Veronica White and East River Development Alliance founder Bishop Mitchell Taylor were also recognized for pushing the project further.