Today’s news:

Canarsie park to reopen-Spring to bring completion of rehab’s first phase

The first phase of the rehabilitation of Canarsie Park will finally be finished this spring.

City Councilmember Lewis Fidler, who has secured more than $12 million in allocations for the park, told members of the South Canarsie Civic Association (SCCA), gathered at the Hebrew Educational Society, 9502 Seaview Avenue, for their February meeting, that the completion of the first phase of the project will bring with it the official reopening of portions of the park, even as phases two and three of the extensive renovations have begun.

Among the areas of the park that will be reopened, Fidler said, is the cricket field.

The delay in the completion of phase one, he noted, reflects the fact that the contractor employed by the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation had done a “shoddy job, and he needed to improve the work.” A ribbon-cutting to mark the end of phase one had been scheduled for last June, but was cancelled by the Parks Department when it was clear that the work would not, in fact, be completed in time.

Delays, Fidler added, are a fact of life when the city does a project. “With the city,” Fidler told the crowd, “any construction job takes five times longer than with a private contractor. That’s nothing I can control. I just prod them along, and push them and push them and push them. At one point, I told them there would be no more money for any park in my district if they didn’t move they didn’t move Canarsie Park along faster, and that got them off the dime.”

Phase two, Fidler told the crowd, “Will include nature trails all the way to the water in an absolutely magnificent style. Phase three will include a skate rink for the kids. That appears to be the thing they are really looking for.” A total of $1.2 million in funding to pay for the skate park had been allocated by Fidler this past year, he said. Less than half of the total amount of money allocated to the park has been spent, Fidler said.

SCCA Vice President Steven Kaye asked about the trees that had been promised for the natural areas toward the back of the park. “The work that has been done so far,” he contended, “is not what we were promised, and did not live up to our expectations.” Specifically, Kaye said, “Instead of 6,000 trees to recreate woods, they planted twigs, most of which are little shrubs that will not grow to more than four or five feet tall.”

In response, Fidler said that, “A lot the landscaping is in phase two, so hopefully we will start to see trees in the back area. Hopefully, in the spring, we will start to see the things that we were promised, and more of it.”

Fidler had amassed the capital funding to redo Canarsie Park over the course of several years, he said, because, “It was being treated as a second class park in a first class neighborhood, and we deserve better.”

The groundbreaking for the work now nearly complete — which includes the cricket field, the picnic grove, meadows, fencing, benches and pathways -- took place in April, 2006. The first funding for the park project was allocated in 2003.

Canarsie Park, which stretches south of Seaview Avenue from Paerdegat Avenue North past East 93rd Street, is 132 acres in size, making it the fourth largest park in the borough.

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