The northeast Bronx is sick and tired of an abandoned golf driving range off I-95 and the Hutchinson River parkway being an eyesore for much of the Baychester community.
Councilman Andy King demonstrated his own frustration along with supporters outside the massive, vacant property at 1825 E. Gun Hill Road on Wednesday, May 29.
“It’s been abandoned for nearly two decades,” King said outside the lot with enough overgrown ivy to rival Wrigley Field.
“Ever since the (abandonment) the grass has grown,” he indicated. The councilman continued airing gripes with the underutilized land, calling it an eyesore , while mentioning that it’s current function is essentially as an illegal dumping ground.
The land is currently under the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s control.
King is calling on the MTA to respond to his request for a sit down meeting that would discuss the property’s future.
“It is a total disrespect to think that it is okay to let a property be overgrown with this much garbage and debris,” the councilman said.
There was a plan to develop the parcel into a 400,000 square foot shopping center and housing complex called Baychester Square in early 2017, which King opposed.
He, along with Speak Up for a Better Bronx, an organization that also joined the recent protest, cited additional traffic as the main reason King for blocking the project.
Even though the proposal was killed at the City Council level it did have some local support.
“Community Board 12 is still in favor of the Baychester Square project,” said the board’s district manager, George Torres, who called the mall project “the first viable option for the land.”
He explained that his board had voted to support the mall in an overwhelming majority vote when the project was first proposed.
“It was a missed opportunity,” Torres continued while mentioning that board members who were appointed by King also voted in favor of the mall.
The chairman has lived in Co-op City for 22 years and expressed his own personal frustration with the quality of life issues that is associated with the lack of maintenance at the property.
He, along with other CB12 and CB 11 members, conducted a site survey on the old, dilapidated golf driving range over a year ago.
“We found holes in the fence that weren’t being repaired and people were sneaking in through, not to mention the longtime issue of illegal truck parking surrounding the driving range,” he said.
“If Baychester Square had been approved then the illegal trucks wouldn’t be able to park there and the trespassing wouldn’t be an issue either,” the district manager continued.
On the other side, some members of Speak Up For The Bronx expressed interest in seeing the land converted into a public park space or possibly a community center or affordable senior housing.
Currently, no plan is under consideration to develop the land any time soon.