A design change to new fencing at Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park has a park advocate crying foul.
A metal fence that was installed to separate the public park from the Edgewater Park Owners Cooperative has been placed upland from the waterfront at Weir Creek, allowing easy for access to the private home owners development along a path running along the water’s edge .
Community Board 10 member Pat Devine, who spearheaded the park being built in the 1970s and lead the effort to get the Parks Department to begin a $1.3 million reconstruction of the park, is now concerned that parkgoers may wander onto the Edgewater Park property, potentially creating liability for the development.
“Edgewater Park needs to protect itself against liability,” Devine said. “There is still access from the park to Edgewater Park because you can just walk to the end of the fence and take a path that leads you right into the development.”
Original plans for the $300,000 black steel fence called for the barrier to directly abut the waterfront at Weir Creek, but somewhere along the line plans were changed, and the fence was moved further inland, Devine said. He contacted CB 10.
“In the original plans, the fence was supposed to go all the way to the waterfront, but the plan was changed, and Parks didn’t reach out and tell us why,” CB 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns said. “It was our understanding that the fence was to run to the waterfront because that was what everyone wanted, including Edgewater Park and the Parks Department.”
The board wrote a letter on Wednesday, July 1 to Parks Capital Projects and Borough Commissioner Hector Aponte requesting information as to why the change was made.
Parks spokesman Zachary Feder said that soil conditions closer to the waterfront necessitated the change of location, which was originally supposed to directly abut Weir Creek, as did environmental regulations.
“The fence was originally planned to run alongside a gully,” Feder said. “Soil conditions along the gully were found to be unstable, and the fence was moved slightly to avoid future problems.”
In order to mitigate problems with pedestrian access to the private Edgewater Park development, the Parks Department will plant thorny shrubs along the fence’s edge to act as a deterrent to trespassing, Feder said.
In the meantime, an exposed area that is just above the waterfront on Weir Creek provides access by foot to and from Edgewater Park, Devine said. He would like to see a retaining wall along the path that abuts the park and the cooperative extended all the way to the waterfront to further deter trespassing, in addition to the new shrubs.
“Right now anyone in the city of New York can come to Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park and walk right into Edgewater with nothing to stop them,” Devine said.