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LIC residents get little say on the design of park expansion

Rendering 2009

May 12, 2015 By Christian Murray

The expansion of Hunters Point South Park has been years in the making yet Long Island City residents have been ignored during the decision-making process.

The city has denied residents with any real opportunity to share their concerns or recommendations as to the design of the final phase of the waterfront park, according to several Community Board 2 members.

The Economic Development Corp., which is in charge of the design and construction of the park, presented its final plans at the Community Board 2 monthly meeting last week.

Philip Strum, vice president of the capital program for EDC, told the board that construction would begin this summer with a completion date of about 2018. He sought a letter of support from the community board.

However, Pat O’Brien, chairman of Community Board 2, provided anything but support in terms of how the EDC had dealt with the public. While the board had yet to evaluate the plans, O’Brien took exception at the way the EDC had worked with the community.

O’Brien said that the EDC had not discussed its waterfront park plans with Community Board 2 since 2009. Furthermore, those discussions were largely focused on the first phase that was completed in August 2013. He said that the last time the board and the EDC discussed the second–and final- phase was in 2009 and that was in very broad terms.

“We are now being presented with something after the fact,” O’Brien said, given the design is essentially complete and construction is set to begin late summer.

However, Strum said that the plans for phase 2 have remained unchanged since 2009.

While true, O’Brien said that a great deal has changed in Hunters Point in the past six years. He said that residents might want the design tweaked based on their knowledge of living in the area and/or going to the park. He said that it was unfortunate EDC didn’t consult with the very people who live in the area.

“There is so much we could have offered and could have recommended,” O’Brien said, who argued that the community should have been consulted in the early stages of the phase 2 design.

“This process is opaque, not even close to transparent,” O’Brien told Strum at last week’s meeting.

O’Brien said that the board had not issued its letter of support yet since it had not had time to fully review the plans.

However, in evaluating the plans, the board is caught in a tight spot. O’Brien said if the board recommends modifications then there would be a need to redesign some of the components—which would add costs– and potentially delay when the project gets started.

The park designer, who spoke at the CB2 meeting, said the second phase of the park will provide space for people to take a stroll and enjoy nature (click for details). Phase one was designed as an active space—with playgrounds, basketball courts, a dog run and the oval.

“The plans may well be excellent,” O’Brien said. “Our issue doesn’t deal so much with the plans but the process.”

Meanwhile, the EDC also told the board last week that it had commissioned an artist to complete a piece of work that is expected to be situated on the southern end of the park.

While the work, which focuses heavily on the moon and the environment, was well received, the process again was slammed.

Lisa Deller, the head of the CB2’s land use committee, asked the EDC why it was presenting the artwork when the artist had already been selected. Furthermore, the Parks Commission had already signed off on the work.

Deller said that it was too late for the board to effectively weigh in. She said that several artists in Long Island City may have wanted to put forward their work or at least offer suggestions.

The EDC selected the artist with the help of the Department of Cultural Affairs, an arts curator and its design team.

“We have been given no opportunity to contribute,” Deller said. “It’s already been signed off on.”

HPS_PromontoryPlan_0

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26 Comments

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bob

Who do I need to talk to to get the cobble stones on center blvd removed? And/or who was responsible for that? They are horrendous. Walking, Biking or Driving it’s super annoying.

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Anonymous visitor

Are you serious?? Annoyed at the cobble stone streets??!!! You are so not from around here.. No real NYer would ever say that ughhh

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Anonymous visitor

Hey as long as this area is an official or unofficial off-leash dog run, I am cool with that! We all know no one will be keeping me in check!

Seriously though kids need schools, we need affordable housing and we need dog crap violators to be penalized.

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Erik Baard

While I’m grateful that my lobbying City Planning for a boat launch at the end of Second Street paid off (I’ve been pushing for that since 2003), there remains no storage. When at a public meeting some years back City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer asked if a couple of basement parking spaces could be used for kayak racks, he was rebuffed by a developer who said, “We need all the parking we can get!” That, of course, is wrong on so many levels. Community water access and safe. clean streets shouldn’t lose out to cars.

I’m also happy about any habitat restoration. At 53-21 Vernon Boulevard HarborLAB is creating the GreenLaunch habitat restoration and environmental science education area.

But still, we really need full community participation.

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Luv

Let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Having a say as to what happens in the hood is a right that everyone should have. However let’s fight the battles that need to be fought (schools and transportation). Getting our blood pressure up over a park is wasting our energy that should be directed at our local politicians like JVB, the Board of Ed and the MTA.

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LIC_Dude

Take a hike over there now before it gets developed! It’s a cool spot in LIC.

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strike

The people who have designed the last phase of this park are the same people who designed the first phase of Gantry Plaza State Park. It is the same designer and the same vision. I don’t know about the transparency or lack thereof of the process. I do know that the park is amazingly beautiful. I have seen the renderings of the final phase and they are wonderful. It’s a little late in the day for politicians to weigh in and start tinkering with a park that everyone loves. I say let the designer realize his original concept to completion and let’s be thankful for it. It really is an amazing park that will just get better with time.

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No

There weren’t even crosswalks on Center until people raised hell. Beautiful is great but there are other considerations that are easy to address in the design but tough to anticipate unless you are a resident.

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Anonymous visitor

Yeah because trees, grass, trails, overlooks and picnic areas are so horrible. Honestly, you people are off your rockers. Have we really run out of things to complain about?

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Hater

Being thankful and expecting transparent and inclusive city planning is not mutually exclusive.

Cannot believe people are arguing actually against a more inclusive process. No wonder so many cities are terrible.

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Anonymous visitor

It’s a complete lie that people weren’t allowed to be involved. The environmental review process for HPS gave the community board and individuals plenty of opportunities to comment on the landscape design, from the concept phase all the way through final review of the reports. Snooze, you lose. You can’t hold up the project simply because you were too lazy to show up at the meetings or even write an email giving your comments. You’re all getting parkland, so even as a worst case, the neighborhood comes out ahead.

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LIC Parent

This lack of transparency does not surprise me. If residents are ignored during the decision-making process about the park in the neighborhood, imagine how we as parents feel about the developers/government entities not including us in the decisions of whether or not to build new schools here! I hope the developers are aware that they will not be able to keep selling their properties in Hunters Point South and Long Island City as “family friendly” because with the current schools already at capacity and very crowded, with one of our Middle Schools in danger of disappearing, and not new schools in the works this neighborhood is sadly NOT very family friendly anymore.

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LIC-T

Good riddance to those thinking LIC needs to be “family friendly.” Young professionals like myself will gladly live in this area, void of double wide strollers and ill behaved children. So often, parents seem to forget that the word does not revolve around them and their desires. But let’s be clear…people are upset about not being explicitly included in the decision making on a park. A PARK! This seems to be much more about “include me or it can’t happen” rather than what the land is being used for.

Reply
This guy.

What is wrong with having kids and also having an opinion? Jesus you’re an asshole.

– a fellow no-child working professional

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LIC-T

There is nothing wrong with being a parent and having an opinion. In the same way that it is not wrong for me to be without children and have an opinion. Even your assertion that i am an asshole is fair for you to have, despite us having never met. My point is that parents need to stop trying to make everything about them and their children. You can’t move to a neighborhood and then demand that your needs are met. School aged children don’t just sneak up on you, yet these parents seem to be shocked to find out their needs aren’t being met at lightning pace. For the amount of rent we pay to live in LIC, i’d be hard pressed to believe these families can’t move to an area that is aligned with their needs, or send their children to private school. Me taking a “me, me, me” attitude, is no different from these parents doing the same. I wish you well and hope that you can recover from your anger issue before it consumes you.

Reply
This guy.

The presence of entire sentences suggests a person typed the above, but the obvious logical flaws in the argument suggest a cat is playing on someone’s keyboard.

Anonymous visitor

No, the world obviously revolves around “young professionals.” Creep.

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LIC homeowner

Is this really shocking to anyone? They haven’t included any of the community on any plans for anything! What about all of rezoning that’s happening near Court Square and Queens Plaza? Has anyone had the opportunity to weigh in on what the neighborhood actually NEEDS? What about that LIC Partnership BID process? I’ve seen nothing from that at all, yet all of these people in charge are supposed to represent the community. It’s all a joke.

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Anonymous Visitor

Enough with the crying already!! This is why nothing ever gets done in the city. It is a park…………..It is greenspace……………It is better then what was there before!!! Be happy about it!

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Anonymous visitor

Exactly. They aren’t building a landfill or transfer station there. Or a homeless shelter filled with the insane. Or a incinerator. Or a coal-fired power plant. These are kinds of things that get built in other neighborhoods all the time, and it wasn’t too long ago that they could have been built on that site. You people in LIC are living in a new gilded age and don’t even realize how fortunate you are. When you can only complain about mediocre ramen shops and not having one more plot of grass under your noses, you are goddamn blessed. Enjoy it because you don’t know when it might end.

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LIC homeowner

Both of you Anons are missing the point completely. The parks space is great, we do need more green space. The problem is the complete disregard for the community. The schools are overcrowded and they’re continuously building new buildings- now what? The trains are overcrowded and people are complaining about it because (According to the MTA) it results in delays- now what? The point is, community input is VERY important in the planning process. The community has to deal with the repercussions of that poor planning. I’m sure half of the people involved in these processes don’t even live in LIC and have no clue what it’s really like, or they just don’t care.

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Anonymous visitor

Actually, I am not missing the point. The story is about parkland that will be included in HPS, and not those other (important) issues you mentioned. I absolutely agree with you that schools and transit are probably the two most important issues facing this neighborhood. But neither of these have anything to do with the proposal for park space — which does ZERO for increasing problems on schools and transit.

Let’s be clear about 2 key things: first, people have had opportunities to submit comments about the HPS plans on several occasions over the past decade at least. Just because you didn’t avail yourself of that chance doesn’t mean you were left out. The second point is that it is crazy that people are even complaining at all. The designs for the parkland are gorgeous. Our neighborhood is going to be the envy of just about every other area of the city that doesn’t have riverfront parkland as beautiful and accessible as ours. I can’t imagine that having hundreds of people pushing their personal agendas (more dog runs!) would make the process better or more efficient.

David

So, cut off nose to spite face. Got it.

Seriously, it would s more parkland. How is that a bad thing?

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