Today’s news:

Temporary classrooms finally razed as park restoration begins

It’s taken over a decade, but the portion of Leif Ericson Park that has been home to temporary classrooms utilized by the High School of Telecommunications Arts & Technology is finally being returned to parkland.

The structures – installed back in 1986 in the park across from the High School, at Fourth Avenue and 67th Street - gave a whole new meaning to the word “temporary,” area residents and members of Community Board 10 have long complained.

What was supposed to be around for a single year hit adolescence still standing in the park, despite repeated requests that it be removed. Most recently, in 2008, CB 10 voted to demand that the School Construction Authority (SCA) immediately take down the structures and restore the park as they said they would.

That same year, local activist Jim O’Dea, a CB 10 member who had lived on 67th Street at the time, had written to Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Julius Spiegel, proclaiming, “Ten years is long enough,” and reminding him, “The community expects them to abide by their agreement in a timely manner.”

Also in 2008, a Department of Education(DOE) spokesperson declined to give an exact date for the removal of the temporary classrooms, but said it would be done before the end of the year.

Now, the projected completion date is May of this year, according to Margie Feinberg, a DOE spokesperson.

Feinberg told this paper that the scope of work for the park restoration includes a new elliptical walkway, electric light poles, the sodding and seeding of portions of the park which will then be planted with bushes and trees, and the installation of exercise equipment.

“Thank God,” noted Ron Gross, a member of CB 10 and a resident of nearby Senator Street. “It’s about time. They promised this and they are actually acting on it. I hope they hurry before the budget is cut.”

O’Dea, for his part, noted that the restoration of the park had been delayed as “they kept finding excuses not to do it. I hope it will be done the proper way, so the park can be used peacefully. It’s taken long enough.”

O’Dea said that, despite assurances that it would not impact nearby residents, he was concerned about the addition of exercise equipment in an area that had been a respite for those who simply wanted to enjoy the fresh air and the beauties of nature.

“I wanted it to be a passive recreation park instead of a gymnasium for adults,” he recalled. “I hope it won’t be a problem for the people who are living on the block now.”

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