Wednesday, May 23, 2007

East River State Park to Open Saturday; Access Limited to Weekends Due to "Staffing"

east river state park photoshoot

After nearly a year of sniffing for clues, pestering State Parks officials, and a few false alarm postings here at imnotsayin, Metro NY (yes, the free morning paper) is reporting on their web edition that East River State Park will open this Saturday at 10 am, and be open weekends only from 10 am to 8 pm going forward.

The article quotes NY State Parks' Rachel Gordon: “It will just be open weekends because of staffing," and goes on to mention that the only restroom facility at this point is a single porta-john.

While we're thrilled that the park gate will finally swing open - almost a full year after 95% of the preparation work was complete - as neighborhood residents, we're dismayed that the state is limiting access to weekends. We're no expert on city parks, but we're pretty certain that most of the smaller parks in the NYC Parks system operate without any full-time staff; and most of those parks contain furniture, benches and plantings that could potentially be damaged by vandals (East River State Park has nothing but concrete, grass, and a steel fence). Why the state requires staffing beyond an occasional roll-by of the Parks Police (they've already been patrolling the property intermittently) and someone to lock and unlock the gate daily is beyond comprehension.

Maybe the state's Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation - a relatively new player in the city parks world - is concerned about liability or just doesn't trust the inevitable skate boarders. But two years after the waterfront rezone promised the compromise of increased waterfront access in exchange for a wall of high-rises lining the river, a part-time park just doesn't cut it.

Perhaps the waterfront developers, who stand to make millions - if not billions of dollars on the rezone-enabled condo towers, could throw a few thousand of their state and city lobbying dollars at providing a weekday babysitter if NY State Parks feels its necessary.

Brooklyn park to be unlocked [Metro NY]