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February 5, 2013 By Steven E. Greer
At the monthly CB1 meeting tonight, the much anticipated updates by the BPCA on the ballfields and Asphalt Green repair projects were much ado about nothing. After somewhat of a distracting filibuster about the design of the ballfields and damage to the community center, BPCA spokesperson Matthew Monahan was unable to deliver the estimated repair timeline. Recall, at the January 29th BPCA meeting, Chairman Dennis Mehiel had mentioned in “about a week” the BPCA would be able to give a construction timeline.
However, the update was not a complete waste of time. There is clearly a strong motivation by the BPCA to get both projects completed as fast as possible, and there seems to be no longer any nefarious duplicitous intent by the BPCA to stall the opening of Asphalt Green. Moreover, a representative from Asphalt Green was in attendance and spoke for the first time in years, indicating that the legal standoff has subsided.
The delay in progress at Asphalt Green noticed by anyone walking past the facility over the last week has been due to damaged electrical equipment in the basement that will power the heating. After heating is restored, the repair work to the wood gym floor and pool will be completed. Once the facility is turned over to Asphalt Green, the spokesman said that it would take approximately six weeks to get ready for opening.
Regarding the artificial turf ballfield repair schedule, Mr. Monahan explain what work had been completed, and that the BPCA was using a “rainy day” fund rather than relying on the lengthy insurance reimbursement process that is plaguing so many New Yorkers who suffered from Hurricane Sandy. A spokesperson for the Downtown Little League was also present, applying for a permit for the April opening day festivities.
The topic of the unsafe street conditions on West Thames and South End Avenue was discussed, with a major development announced. Recall, at the last CB1 meeting, the city DOT representative, Josh Kraus, seemed more willing to pursue remedies within months while the CB1 leadership preferred to delay “studying” the matter until the Fall.
Since then, CB1 staffer Evan Lacher made great strides with the DOT, and plans are now underway to conduct the required traffic study in March, and then possibly install a traffic light. With a change in city administrations coming this Fall after the Mayoral election, the DOT is expediting matters to avoid needless delays. The BPCA is also now agreeing to fund the costs of traffic lights or other changed deemed necessary.
In addition to larger infrastructure changes to address the street crossing safety, the DOT can implement faster smaller changes, such as pebble stone medians to prevent U-turns, etc. The CB1 will set up a subcommittee to work with the DOT on those decisions.
Inexplicably, the only form of pushback from the CB1 that might have delayed the progress came from CB1 member Tammy Meltzer who seemed to want to delay any progress until the city’s bike sharing program was completed. Chairman Anthony Notary and Evan Lacher both replied with many reasons why that would be unwise.
The last “signature” construction project underway being managed by the BPCA discussed at the meeting was Pier A. The CB1 board requested of the BPCA’s Mr. Monahan that the Poulakakos family re-present their architectural plans for the proposed restaurant. The board seemed troubled by the evolving nature of the plans into more of a “booze cruise” destination for tour buses and party boats.