New York City’s Parks Department is renovating parts of city parks, but for some, it’s taking too long.
The projected timeline for the design, procurement and construction of a new comfort station at Marcus Garvey Park spreads from March 2015 to January 2019. The New York City Parks Department said that each project follows a similar protocol, with the average time for actual construction taking between 12 and 18 months.
“We are happy to report that construction on historic Marcus Garvey Park’s comfort station and clubhouse will shortly resume,” said a Parks Department representative to the AmNews. “Providing a comfort station for the park’s many visitors and a home for the Harlem Little League is a priority for NYC Parks.”
Construction of a new comfort station in Marcus Garvey Park costs $3.25 million, with funding coming from a combination of City Hall, private funds from a bonding company, state grants and the MTA. Originally, the start design date for the project was October 2006. A representative told the AmNews that the project faced “unusual” difficulties and did not start until 2012 after four unsuccessful bid cycles. In February 2014, the selected contractor abandoned the project because of financial insolvency and completed only 21 percent of the work in a two-year span. The bonding company didn’t provide another contractor to continue work on the project until 2015.
The AmNews contacted the Parks Department to get the name of the contractors and bonding company in question but were unsuccessful by press time. We were told that the issue caused construction to halt from February 2014 to August 2017 (when construction resumes).
According to the NYC Parks Department’s website, “Construction staff oversees the daily operations of the project to ensure it’s built to Parks’ specifications and to resolve any issues that arise. Construction supervision responsibilities include subcontractor approvals, submittals, change orders & overruns, and payments, which occur simultaneously on a project. Construction staff who oversee our projects submit weekly progress reports with percent completion information, which is shown on the capital tracker and varies from project to project, depending on the work. A site is opened to the public after the Parks Department holds a substantial completion inspection with the contractor.”
When asked if certain parks take a priority over others, the representative said, “All of parks projects are a high priority,” mentioning the recent park investments with the reconstruction of the Richard Rogers Amphitheater and the Pelham Fritz Recreation Center and the restoration of the Mt. Morris Fire Watchtower.
But tell that to Harlem resident Daniel Wilhelm, who wrote a letter to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer about his frustrations with the construction. He spoke with the AmNews about restrooms being “in disrepair.”
“I think it’s disgraceful!” said Wilhelm, who frequents the park several times a week and more when his son plays in Harlem Little League. “It’s a park that’s well-used and heavily used by the community [and] directly next to a beautifully restored amphitheater and next to a much-enjoyed baseball field. And the fact that there’s no facilities and that this eyesore has been around to continue for a number of years is inexcusable.”
Wilhelm also referred to the restroom as an “unusable mess.”
“It’s obviously not going to be in any shape to be used this summer, but it would be especially nice if it were completed so that residents of Harlem could enjoy the park and use facilities there for the coming spring and summer,” Wilhelm said.
The parks commissioner has emphasized reducing time of the capital process for projects, which officials say have been reduced by five months. The goal is to create “better parks sooner.”
But for now, Wilhelm just refers to the condition of the construction site at Marcus Garvey Park as “derelict.”