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Exciting Promises, But Parks Dept. Execution Is Lagging


Justen Ladda


While renovations are going on, parts of East River Park are deteriorating

by Pat Arnow

Artist Justen Ladda, who participated in the design of the Allen Street model mall and has been trying to shepherd it to completion for eight years, came to the CB3 Parks, Recreation, Cultural Affairs, Landmarks, and Waterfront Committee meeting for answers, but the Parks Department Capital Projects Manager who was supposed to update the board on both East River Park and the Allen Street mall did not show.

According to Ladda, the project was supposed to be going out for bids, but with the latest delay it might lose substantial grant funding. “If there’s not a shovel in the ground this year,” he pleaded, the future of the project may be in doubt.

But according to the Parks Dept. Press Officer Carli Smith, advertising for bids for the mall is slated for this fall, with the work itself to begin in March 2007. So Allen Street may have a while to wait before it becomes the “Champs Elysées of New York,” but it’s going to happen.

Two local park managers, Kiesha Garnes and Tricia Daniel, had nothing to say about delays in construction of the East River Park promenade. But Garnes reported about East River Park construction. The asphalt pavement on the track at Sixth Street is almost finished, and the synthetic track surface will then be installed, she said, as well as aluminum bleachers. On the promenade, close to 1500 out of 3500 linear feet of bulkheads have been installed, Garnes said.

One committee member asked about the rutted service road that gets filled with mud puddles every time it rains. “After the promenade is completed, then the service road will be done,” said Garnes.

Under its own agenda item, the Committee took the Parks Department to task for failure to provide adequate notification of large-scale parks events. Park manager Daniel, who is new to the job, promised to do better.

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