Hearing on Throgg’s Neck park proposal ends in confusion

A public hearing on a not-for-profit’s plan to buy a waterfront property and then convert it to public parkland created more questions than answers, most pressing among them the question of who actually owns the property.

The private lot at 222 Longstreet Avenue and 850 Shore Drive has been vacant for several years after a home on the property was torn down.

The Trust for Public Land, a national non-profit, reached out to the seller’s real estate agent, Tamerlain Realty Corporation, with a plan to purchase the property at market rate and then donate it to the city for public land space

At a Monday, November 14 public hearing at Ft. Schuyler Home, Antonio Michelakis of the NYC Parks and Recreation’s planning department said if the 15,000 square-foot waterfront property is purchased, the trust would then put a deed restriction on the property to prevent it from being converted to anything but public open space.

“They have funding that was given to them through the Port Authority (of New York), and they will take that funding as they have in the past with other city projects, to acquire land and turn it over to the parks department and eventually it will become parkland,” Michelakis explained.

The property can be subdivided into two 7,500 square-foot lots and is zoned C3-A,.

That zoning allows residential housing, a community facility or commercial uses associated with boating or recreation.

Should the parks department acquired it, it is estimated to spend between $1.7 million and $2 million on a playground, ball courts, sidewalks and necessary repairs to the sea wall.

The Parks Department likes the site because it fills a gap in the city’s efforts to have a city park within a 10-minute walk of all residents, Michelakis said.

Approximately 1,300 people would be serviced by a park in the proposed location, 980 of which would be within a 10-minute walk.

Community board members and residents of the neighborhood said they had concerns about the lack of parking and the high-speed traffic that travels the road on a daily basis, as well as crime and littering.

“Have you been on this block?” asked board member Diane Lachwald. “Have you seen there is not a place to park?”

Confusion then set in when a female relative of the alleged property owner, Anna Mancuso Massa, told the board the owner was unaware of the public hearing until she was told of the notice letter her relatives had received.

“She said to make it clear that it was her intention not to sell for these purposes – she is not interested in doing that,” the woman said.

Michelakis said his department had met with a middle-aged man who claimed his wife’s family owned the property.

The realtor had put thm in touch with the man..

That man understood what the parks proposal entailed and approved of it, he said.

CB 10 chairman Martin Prince asked to have the owner and the realty agency reach out to his office to set the record straight on ownership by that Thursday, when the board was expected to vote on the measure.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com.

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