A bathroom reconstruction that took four requests for bids before a contractor was finally chosen.
A playground revamp grounded in the middle of construction because of a play mound whose design was too steep.
Security lighting around a play area with a history of gun violence tied up because of a sudden lack of funds.
Those are three of the 43 promised Parks Department projects that have been delayed for five or more years and counting, a Daily News review shows. Seven have been stalled since 2009.
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By contrast, it took a little more than 31/2 years to build both Yankee Stadium and Citi Field — and five years to complete the entire Verrazano Bridge.
With a capital budget of .2 billion, the Parks Department is involved in 505 projects ranging from bathrooms to swings, and 86% of construction gets done on time, according to the Mayor’s Management report.
But critics say those figures are misleading because it fails to take into consideration delays during the design and procurement phase.
“There is a real lack of accountability measures,” said City Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan), chairman of the Parks Committee.
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“This is an enormous concern among virtually all of my colleagues,” added Levine, a Democrat who represents Morningside Heights and Hamilton Heights in northern Manhattan. “Some (Council members) are threatening to withhold discretionary funds because these delays are so egregious.”
The critics say the list of delayed projects points to Mayor de Blasio’s failure to keep his campaign promise to overhaul and streamline the Parks Department’s Capital Projects Division.
De Blasio named urban design expert Mitchell Silver — who helped create the “Harlem-on-the-River” park along the shoreline of the Hudson River when he worked in the City Planning Department — as parks commissioner.
Yet the Capital Projects Division — created by master builder Robert Moses in 1934 — has struggled to clear a backlog of projects.
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Among them is the Olmsted Center in Queens’ Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which currently has a million price tag — putting it million overbudget, according to internal budget documents.
The Olmsted Center is used as office space for many of the Parks Department employees who work for the Capital Projects Division and are supposed to execute all the agency’s overhaul projects.
It’s long been a source of embarrassment for the department, which had to put out three requests for bids on the project before finding a construction firm willing to take on the building renovation.
That contractor, Rockmore Contracting Corp., has only completed 16.7% of the necessary repairs to the crumbling building since beginning work in May 2015, records show.
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The design portion of the project began in 2010.
Some planned projects remain stalled — often because of sudden design changes, or community stakeholders with divergent demands, or unforeseen environmental complications that require added regulatory approvals, according to the Parks Department.
Parks officials said their monthly “Red Zone” meetings have helped speed things up — but The News’ review shows many projects are languishing.
In the Bronx, parkland covers a lush 24% of the borough.
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But in some congested neighborhoods, residents are hard-pressed to find any green play areas.
A proposed playground in Soundview Park was supposed to address that shortage — but the still-incomplete project has been in the works for nearly a decade.
It was first announced in July 2007 — but then-Parks Department officials decided to make a mountain out of a molehill, agency records show.
A so-called “play mound” — a part of the terrain deemed too steep to grade properly — has been blamed for nearly 10 years of delays and costs overruns.
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Not far away in the Bronx, residents are similarly anxious for their long-awaited bathroom on Ferry Point Park — a project that’s been in limbo since it was proposed in 2006.
While it is still not complete, the city did manage to finish the 0 million golf course — run by Donald Trump — on the park’s eastern end.
Thousands of soccer players and parkgoers flock to the waterfront space alongside the President’s golf course — but they have nowhere to go when nature calls, advocates said.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Dorothea Poggi, president of Friends of Ferry Point Park. “It was 10 years ago they put up a sign and said a bathroom was coming.”
The Parks Department set aside million for the facility 11 years ago, but a contractor dropped out of the project in 2011 after unexpected environmental issues popped up, officials said.
Then Hurricane Sandy blew the bathroom plan off course again.
The current price tag is now at .6 million — and the bathroom will be completed by August, the Parks Department said.
“The Whitestone Bridge was built in a couple months and they can’t build a bathroom,” Poggi lamented.
Sandy was partly responsible for the most delayed Parks Department project in the city — the redesign of Peck Slip, a cobblestone street in lower Manhattan that for years was used as a parking lot.
The project to convert the spot just north of South Street Seaport into green space has gone through countless redesigns and structural roadblocks — many linked to Sandy damage — since it was proposed in 2006, records show.
Parks Department officials defended the Capital Projects Division and Commissioner Silver to The News. They said the average processing time for each project has dropped by six to eight months since Silver took over in 2014.
“During Commissioner Silver’s tenure, NYC Parks has taken on more projects and finished them faster,” said department spokesman Sam Biederman. “At any given time, NYC Parks has roughly 500 capital projects in development, and we’ll continue to work to bring New Yorkers better parks faster.”
The department has also increased the number of capital projects it tackles by 40% each year since 2014, he added.
The improved efficiency is at least partly due to a budget increase of million that allowed Parks to hire more than 100 new staffers for the troubled unit, city records show.
But that hasn’t helped a playground bathroom in central Harlem. The facility at St. Nicholas Playground North — surrounded by one of the city’s largest public housing projects — has been out of commission for 10 years.
Its 6,743 refurbishment was announced in 2009 — and the design phase alone took three years, records show.
Melissa Santiago, 35, said the lack of a bathroom makes her reluctant to bring her 5-year-old to the playground.
“I’m not comfortable coming here a lot,” she said.
After a series of bidding issues, construction on the project began in October. It’s expected to take a year to finish, Parks Department officials said.
Safety is the concern at the Harry Maze Playground in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.
The playground underwent a complete transformation that was finished last year, but security lighting at the site remains unfinished, records show.
A shooting at the park in June left five teens wounded.
“No other agency in the city has these delays,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates. “They simply do not know what they are doing, and this administration refuses to address the issues. . . . It’s a runaway train.”
With Chelsia Rose Marcius and Edgar Sandoval
- mark levine
- bill de blasio
- verrazano-narrows bridge
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