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Update: May 17, 2011
It appears as if the Parks folks have struck an agreement with the DOT over the handling of the mud field. A press release today from the DOT read, “The lawn will be closed for re-sodding the turf area. The closure is necessary in order to install new sod and allow it to properly “knit.” After removing the old sod and installing the new sod, this growing period will last for approximately eight weeks. The lawn is expected to re-open approximately on Friday, July 22, 2011. No public access is allowed in order to protect the newly establishing lawn and to make sure the lawn stays healthy. It is necessary to do this work now since spring planting is an optimal time to lay new sod. If you have further questions or require any additional information, please contact the Community Outreach Liaison, Julie Nadel, by telephone at 1-800-714-0454 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
May 6, 2011
BatterPark.TV was the first to report on the bureaucratic feud between the DOT and BPCA Parks Conservancy that led to the neglect and destruction of the newly sodded field north of West Thames Park that cost several million to the tax payer (an estimated $100,000 for the grass sod alone). The DOT seems to have resolved the issues relating to the construction of the field, analogous to a “punch out list” a new homeowner goes through with a construction company (i.e. sprinklers, drainage in this case), yet the Parks Conservancy continues to dither. Meanwhile, the window of time for re-sodding is expiring fast (The end of May).
BatteryPark.TV has been trying to get answers from the BPCA for two weeks, but the BPCA has gone through extensive efforts to avoid our questions, including even instructing the Brookfield Properties security desk to not allow us up to the World Financial Center BPCA offices (a story in and of itself). However, the DOT has responded to our questions.
According to Adam Levine of the DOT, the sprinkler and drainage issues of the new field have been resolved. The DOT is ready to re-sod the field as soon as the BPCA Parks Conservancy, managed by Tess Huxley, meets with them and agrees to assume control of the field, as they currently do so well for all of the other grassy areas in BPC.
It is unclear why the Parks Conservancy is dragging their feet and failing to meet with the DOT. According to a local newsletter, at a recent Community Board meeting, Battery Park City CB Chair, Linda Belfer, said, “Originally when they agreed to do the park, there were agreements in place as to the maintenance and now they’re being ignored and they’re renegotiating who will maintain the parks, the HRPT or the Conservancy. The two agencies together have not come to an agreement.” She added that Joe Brown, project manager for the DOT, “said last night that they’re ready to put in the sod. Meanwhile we’re losing more and more time, and use of the area.”
In the bigger picture, The Parks Conservancy has been the agency in charge of numerous scandals recently. The Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) are managed by The Parks Conservancy and Tess Huxley. The issue of the PEPs harassing dog owners walking their dogs, asking for ID for no reason, and the violent attack of a local resident who protested being asked for his ID, came to a boiling point after BatteryPark.TV reported the stories.
Also, this Spring, it became apparent that the large expensive Koi carp in the waterfall pond, also managed by the Parks Conservancy, were killed when the pond was neglected over the harsh winter. A simple hole in the ice to allow for oxygen would have saved the fish and allowed them to live through the record-breaking cold winter as they had done for 16 previous years.
There are numerous other complaints relating to mismanagement by the Parks Conservancy. BatteryPark.TV recently reported on a notorious PEP Captain negotiating with NYPD tow trucks to avoid an expensive towing of a PEP’s personal car.
Although the BPCA seems to have addressed many of the PEP issues, and progress has been noted, the top management at the Parks Conservancy seem to be circling their wagons, dodging the press by almost literally hiding under their desks, avoiding Community Board meetings, and exhibiting no signs of reform.
If the topics were not so important to Battery Park residents, the Parks Conservancy drama would make for a good episode on NBC’s “Community” that spoofs local parks officials. However, this is not a joke.
Bad -apple bureaucrats are usually resistant to change and have to be replaced.