New Pelham Bay Park Gate Idea Causing Mixed Feelings

Residents of Spencer Estate feel that a proposed entrance gate to Pelham Bay Park will open doors, not only to the park, but to a lot of aggravation.

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has proposed renovations to Pelham Bay Park that include a new entrance gate to the park at the intersection of Watt and Bayshore avenues.

The only two entrances on the southern end of the park are currently on the intersection of Watt and Stadium avenues, and the intersection of Watt and Library avenues. Spencer Estate residents have expressed concern that the entrance will attract too many visitors who will clog up the area and make it difficult to find parking.

A Parks Department representative will attend a Spencer Estate Civic Association meeting on Wednesday, April 20 to address the community’s concerns.

The Parks Department originally floated the idea of the new gate three years ago, but put the plans on hold when Spencer Estate residents protested. Now, it is revisiting the plans.

“It’s déjà vu all over again,” said Al Carena, president of the Spencer Estate Civic Association. “Three years ago there was a big stink, and the parks commissioner was gracious enough to come to our office. It was put off, but its head has been reared again.”

Sal Grassia has lived on Middletown Road, which also borders the south end of Pelham Bay Park, for forty years. He is also active in the civic association and is a staunch opponent of the new entrance gate, which he believes will bring an influx of people from outside the neighborhood that will overrun the street’s limited parking.

“Visitors are going to be parking all over the place,” Grassia said. “We don’t know what the amounts of litter is going to be like. There already is a gate. There’s no reason for another one.”

However, Marianne Anderson, the Parks Department’s administrator for Pelham Bay Park, believes there is a good reason.

“It has to do with the way the shoreline is,” Anderson said about Bayshore Avenue, which is closest to the shoreline.“It’s easier for our guys to clean up, because that’s the way we go in now. The gate will be four feet high and locked, with a sign that says ‘authorized personnel only.’

Anderson said she understands the community anguish, since she has seen a similar situation in her own neighborhood.

“I know they have concern about the parking in the local area, I understand that,” she said. “I live in Woodlawn and we have a similar concern with Van Cortlandt Park. I know that parks had presented it to them, and we need to go back to them to talk about it again.”

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