Tire Swing Park: The victim of two feuding bureaucracies

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Update: November 18, 2010

The CYA strategy to cover up the embarrassment of Tire Swing Park

The newly-sodded grass playing field north of the new Tire Swing Park has been allowed to become a mud field due to bureaucratic feuding between the DOT, the official agency in charge, and the BPCA Parks Conservancy. As BatteryPark.TV first reported, the BPCA was to assume daily care of the lawn, including shutting it down to prevent overusage as it does the other nearby grass fields, but had refused to take responsibility until the DOT fixed some problems with the construction.

In a local Battery Park City news outlet today, an anonymous BPCA “insider” is quoted as denying that overuse and neglect caused the death of the expensive sod. This source is quoted, “(overuse) that wasn’t the problem. The grass never grew, which is evidenced by the fact that we never had to cut it, even once. Without mowing, healthy grass would be three feet tall by now.”

BatteryPark.TV has photographs to prove those statements untrue. Someone mowed the lawn many times after the sod was laid. Moreover, if the sod did not take, it would have turned brown rapidly. In fact, the sod was healthy until the two feuding agencies failed to regulate the overuse of team sports, namely soccer. Even normal light usage, as the Rector Park lawns receive, require periods of no use and fencing off to prevent death, and the BPCA does so with those lawns (see below).

Other CYA excuses mentioned by the anonymous “insider”, such as improper soil or poor drainage are also not to blame. The lawn was too moist, but that was due to incompetent sprinkler scheduling by a remote DOT that was not on site as the BPCA would have been. Only after BatteryPark.TV informed the DOT of the problem did they adjust the over-sprinkling, but the lawn had been largely destroyed by team sports by then.

BatteyPark.TV asked DOT spokesman Adam Levine what they planned to do about the lawn. He mentioned that the Community Boards were discussing the problem but he evaded the question. When asked whether artificial turf was an option, he said, “That is not even a consideration at the time”.

The cause of death of the lawn was increased traffic driven by the popular new Tire Swing Park, team sports being played, and a complete lack of oversight and preventive maintenance by the DOT. Until the BPCA agrees to assume to responsibility for the care of this lawn and the local bureaucrats get the minimal will to limit team sports, re-sodding will simply waste another $100,000 of scarce City and State capital.

Update: September 8, 2010

In response to the issues raised by BatteryPark.TV, the DOT spoke with the Community Board last night. The Tire Swing will be replaced. The mud swamp, formerly the grass field, will be repaired by moving some drainage boxes, and the waterfall area in the playground will have its drainage problem addressed.

The problems with the community garden and basketball court areas were also addressed by Tom Goodkind and Mr. Galloway. The soil content chosen for the gardens is too sandy, causing rapid dehydration and lack of root support. Self-standing plants like peppers and zinnias fall over easily unless they are propped up. The basketball courts have no water fountain causing players to jump the fence and raid the community garden hoses.

At the meeting, Mr. Goodkind requested that one of the water sprinklers be designated and brought to the basketball area. It was also discussed that the water sprinklers in the old garden had locks and that this new garden area does not. The response from the DOT is pending.


August 26th, 2010

The new Tire Swing Park by West Thames has had as controversial of a launch as its planning stage. First, opponents of the park raised concerns over the iconic swinging tire and forced it to be removed. Then, the drainage of the rubberized surface by the kid’s waterfall was backing up and creating a pond.

As a result, the BPCA never assumed responsibility for the park from the DOT as promised on the day of the ribbon cutting.

As the two bureaucracies feuded and played “hot potato” with the troubled park, the expensively sodded playing field became the neglected child in an ugly divorce. The DOT was watering the field too much and the BPCA Parks Conservancy people did not close the grass field occasionally to protect it from overuse, as they do with adjacent grass lots in the parks.

Rector Park grass field closed for protection

Hence, 40% or so of the field is now completely dead and all mud.

Re-sodding would cost $30,000 for a private project, but likely $100,000 for a State contract. This is in addition to the $9 Million cost of building the park (that many did not want and preferred the original shaded, more natural, park with a real tire swing!)

BatteryPark.TV emailed and called the Region 11 of the New York State DOT media relations staff nearly a dozen times and received no reply. Only after contacting the Director, Phillip Eng, did we get some answers. They wrote:

From the DOT: I am writing in response to your questions regarding West Thames Park. First, my apologies for not getting back to you yesterday. As you saw from my response e-mail, I was on vacation the past week, and I was very busy catching up on other calls and e-mails.  Also, I wanted to touch base with the Route 9A project team to see if there had been any communication with you before I spoke with you.

Next, as part of my discussion with the project team, we visited the park today, and I saw that the drainage issue has been repaired. Perhaps you’ve seen the holes the team drilled in the safety surface to improve the drainage.  These holes were drilled last week, and the parents in the park told us they have been pleased with the performance of the drain since that time.  This is only a temporary measure, and we will look to do something more permanent after Labor Day, when the Parks Conservancy is expected to shut off the water features of the park for the season.

Regarding the lawn, as we have noted in the past, it was constructed to Parks Conservancy standards, and the responsibility for closing the lawn to rest the grass is theirs. We have been involved with testing of the grass and soil to determine if there are any changes that would be necessary to either the grass or soil.  We are expecting the results of those tests within the next few days, and we will be discussing the results with the Parks Conservancy and the BPC Committee of Community Board 1.

Finally, the park is already partially under the authority of the Parks Conservancy. They are already tending to the sand, cleaning and policing the park, and performing other operational functions. We will continue to work with them on construction “punch list” items, such as the lawn and the drainage, to ensure a smooth transition.

I hope this is helpful.  Please feel free to let me know if you need any additional information.

Adam Levine

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