A long-stalled project that would create a pocket park at Belden Point, at the very end of City Island Avenue, is finally moving forward.
Announced with great fanfare as a collaboration by then Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr., the Department of State, and the Department of City Planning in 2004 as a way to increase access to the waterfront for passive recreation, the project had been shelved after neighboring restaurants were not willing to sign a maintenance agreement for upkeep at the proposed park, a source said.
Concerned that the state funding set aside for the project, as well as money pledge by the Borough President’s office, would be lost, concerned community residents reached out to Senator Jeff Klein in 2010, a spokesman for Klein said.
A stalemate was broken when both owners of adjoining properties, Tony’s Pier Restaurant at 1 City Island Avenue and Johnny’s Reef Restaurant at 2 City Island Avenue, agreed to help maintain the new park, said Barbara Dolensek, vice-president of the City Island Civic Association.
A parks department spokesman said that the construction of the new park is expected to begin and end during the very end of 2012 and beginning of 2013, during the winter so as not to interfere with the seasonal restaurant businesses adjoining the park, said a Parks Department spokesman.
“The project is funded by $170,000 allocated by Borough President Diaz, and a $170,000 state grant from Senator Jeff Klein,” the parks department spokesman said. “The project scope is to create a small green space [and] plaza at the southern end of City Island Avenue including new pavement, benches, bollards and railings.”
Originally, the idea for a park at Belden Point was broached by City Planning to clean up an area that is prone to debris, Dolensek said. It was first proposed when the Department of City Planning was conducting a study in 2003 and 2004 that resulted in the downzoning of City Island, Dolensek stated.
The City Island Civic Association is still waiting to see the final design, but Dolensek said that she hopes that the project gets underway as soon as possible.
“That money is not going to last forever,” Dolensek stated, adding that construction of the park may have to work around pilings left in the water from a demolished dock, which have become a natural habitat for certain kinds of sea life according to an environmental agency.
Senator Klein fought for an extension of the state funding originally pledged to bring the various agencies involved to fast track the project, a spokesman for Klein said. These agencies included the Department of Environmental Protection, Parks Department, Department of City Planning, and Department of Sanitation, Klein’s spokesman stated.
©2012 Community News Group