Members of the College Point Civic Association are tired of waiting for the seawall at MacNeil Park to get rebuilt, a project originally scheduled to begin last year that the Parks Department now says will take place next fall, after the procurement process ends.
The rebuilding was rebid and repackaged after the contractor withdrew its bid to the city’s request-for-bid, according to the Parks Department.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) has been told by Parks Borough Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski that the funds for the project have not been diverted for another use, but he says a different agency should be put in charge of it.
“The Parks Department seems to be totally incapable of doing construction period anywhere in the City of New York,” Avella said. “It should be taken away from the Parks Department and given to [the Department of Design and Construction] because Parks seems to be incapable of doing anything in a reasonable time frame. The seawall issue is another example.”
“It is critical to keep addressing the ongoing renovation projects at MacNeil Park and to ensure the Parks Department moves swiftly in securing a new contractor,” Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) said in a prepared statement. “Our office will continue advocating for the completion of these projects, especially the crumbling waterfront paths and seawall, for the betterment of the College Point community.”
“NYC Parks is committed to realizing the rebuilding of MacNeil Seawall,” Parks Department spokeswoman Meghan Lalor said in a prepared statement. “The project’s design is complete and the procurement process is currently underway.”
Coastal Preservation Network President James Cervino is calling for a forensic accounting of Parks Department funds allocated to the project.
Sinkholes caused by the seawall in the park’s walkway, he said, are hazardous to the park’s visitors. Despite Lewandowski’s saying the funds for the seawall reconstruction have not been used for another project, Cervino would like some assurance.
“I want to see a forensic accounting of that money,” said Cervino, the chairman of the environmental committees of Community Board 7 and the College Point Civic Association. He added that the Parks Department should “show that it’s sitting in an account earmarked.”
He also expressed frustration that, given the volunteer work like cleanups that the CPN does for MacNeil Park, the Parks Department still has not rebuilt the seawall.
“We’ve been working for them, saving New York taxpayers a lot of money by working for free,” he said. “They treat us like second-class citizens when we want an accounting for where the money is.”
The CPN has spent thousands of dollars making an oyster and seagrass habitat at the park, which it says is threatened by the construction of a nearby stormwater outfall being built by the city. The CPN has requested that the outfall be extended further away from land.
“Obviously, we’re very upset and frustrated by this,” Andrew Rocco, the vice president of the civic association, said. “What other waterfront has such a beautiful park that’s blatantly neglected?”
Flushing land use expert Paul Graziano, who attended a contentious meeting with the civic association and the Parks Department last week, agrees with Avella’s statement that the DDC should be put in charge of rebuilding the seawall.
“We have critical infrastructure issues like the seawall,” he said. “It’s one thing for them to take 10 years to build a comfort station in Little Bay Park, but people are hurting themselves. It’s really troubling.”