It may be the gateway to Pelham Bay, but community leaders are saying that it needs a massive facelift to reflect the great neighborhood surrounding it.
Amendola Plaza and the adjoining Pelham Bay Station, serving the IRT, #6 transit line, has gone downhill, with no city agency willing to take full ownership of the entire space.
It is not clear which city agency owns the plaza, only that the Department of Parks and Recreation is supposed to be maintaining it.
“I think the main problems with Pelham Bay Station are the hangers-on,” said Councilman Jimmy Vacca, on a walk-through with community leaders on Friday, September 5. “We have people who hang around here with drinking, drug, and mental-health issues.”
Vacca added that he is putting his money where his mouth is, allocating funds to keep the area up to snuff.
“There is money from my office to deal with the issues we are facing here,” Vacca said about the station and the surrounding area. “We have the capital funding to rehab the station, but the bigger issue is what to do with the hanging out here – the quality of life.”
If the issue of what to do with the transient population that is increasingly calling the area around the station home is the top concern, the infrastructure of the station and the plaza comes up as a close second.
“We have a two-foot dip in part of the sidewalk in Amendola Plaza, and repairs have to be made because we are looking into to putting in a greenstreet,” said Ed Romeo, president of the Pelham Bay Taxpayers and Community Association. “This is the entranceway to Pelham Bay, but at night it is dark and many people I have spoken with don’t feel comfortable.”
Besides the greenstreet, which would be a matter for the Parks Department, Romeo also said he would like to see shrubs and other types of plants surrounding the exterior walls of the station to discourage graffiti vandals. However, the MTA appears to be having problems just keeping the building painted.
“There is paint on the station that is all chipped, and the exterior of the building looks as if a bomb hit it,” said Community Board 10 district manager Ken Kearns. “I would like to see more inclusive lighting and other enhancements. I had even floated a proposal to create a visitors center in the former comfort station across the street, but it was declined.”
A capital project rehabilitating the station and plaza would likely take up to two years to commence.
Romeo sees the issue as representative what he feels is the City’s lack of concern for its “forgotten middle class.”
“Let’s face it, if you are a family making $100,000 a year, you are probably living here,” Romeo noted. “But the amount we get back from our tax dollar is not adequate.”