Parks explores other options to proposed Bayshore-Watts gate

An artist’s rendering of the proposed waterfront promenade, which may see the proposed gate at the corner of Bayshore and Watt avenues scrapped in favor of one at Watt and Library avenues, as requested by the community in a recent meeting with Bronx Parks commissioner Hector Aponte. - Photo courtesy of the Parks Department

It seems that the loud complaints of Spencer Estate residents about the Parks Department’s decision to install a gate to a waterfront promenade they are designing are, in fact, being heard.

After a contentious dialogue with Bronx Parks Commissioner Hector Aponte at the Spencer Estate Civic Association’s meeting on May 21, Parks appears to have had a change of heart about the gate, and is now actively looking at alternatives.

Possible substitutes include a little used existing gate at Watt and Library avenues and an existing path that currently links the picnic area to the area waterfront where the boardwalk will be built.

“The original design for the Pelham Bay Park South Waterfront included a park entrance at Bayshore and Watt avenues,” stated Jesslyn Tiao, spokeswoman for Parks.  “However, at the request of the community, we are currently exploring other location options for this entrance.  We will present new design options shortly to the community for feedback.”

The news comes as a pleasant surprise to local residents.

“Personally, I think this news is terrific,” said SECA president Al Carena. “We look forward to working with the Parks Department to resolve this matter to everyone’s best interest.”

The Parks Department is designing a waterfront promenade stretching from the edge of the Pelham Bay landfill to near the foot of Bayshore Avenue, allowing the general public access to Eastchester Bay. Parks will also re-naturalize part of the waterfront by removing obsolete pipes and rock.

While residents of the close-knit community were glad to see improvements to Pelham Bay Park, they are adamantly opposing the initial gate’s location due to parking and security concerns.

Residents cite no policing of the area by Parks, as well as an already critical shortage of parking, as their rationale behind not having the gate.

Bronx Parks commissioner Hector Aponte heard an earful from residents at the SECA meeting, and apparently got the message from the community, which wanted different options to be explored on making the waterfront accessible for everyone who wants to use it.

“If you think I haven’t got it, I understand you don’t want the gate,” Aponte told the crowd at the SECA’s last meeting. Aponte took time out of his busy schedule to participate in an hour-long question and answer session about the gate and it appears his efforts paid off for the community. 

Said Al Argiento, a Bayshore Avenue resident opposed to the gate: “I am glad to hear the good news.”

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