Soundview Park renovation budget slashed

Now that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has chopped the Soundview Park renovation budget in half, neighborhood leaders are pushing for work to begin – possible contamination notwithstanding.

In May, the city announced it would contribute not $32.2 million but $17.3 million to Soundview Park by 2015. The park is supposed to get new playgrounds, ball courts, bike paths and a performance space in 2010. It recently added new ball fields. Work on a new field house and boat launch should finish during the summer. The park is also supposed to undergo salt marsh restoration. Not every project will survive the budget cut. Representatives from the Parks Department attended a Community Board 9 committee meeting in April. Debate related to contamination in the park has slowed the renovation.

“The neighborhood is ready for the city to redo Soundview Park,” CB9 member Mary McKinney said. “We want the project to move forward.”

McKinney is afraid the mayor will cut Soundview Park again. CB9 district manager Francisco Gonzalez agreed.

“We will do whatever we can to expedite the project,” Gonzalez said.

The Parks Department will visit CB9 again on June 18. Soundview Park is one of eight city parks targeted for renovations as part of Bloomberg’s sweeping PlaNYC initiative. The Soundview Park restoration includes Department of Transportation, the Department of Sanitation, borough president and Croton Filtration Plant funds.

“As part of the city’s response to the fiscal crisis, the Parks Department has restructured its capital plan,” spokeswoman Jesslyn Moser said. “If the reduction in funding is not restored or supplemented by another funding source, some elements…will be deferred.”

CB9 member Walter Nestler is a contamination watchdog. Most of the land south of Bruckner Boulevard used to be landfill. The Parks Department has refused to share soil test results at Soundview Park on Metcalf and Soundview avenues, Nestler said. The Parks Department is working with the state and city environmental agencies to develop remediation strategies for Soundview Park, Moser said. The city’s Department of Health has reviewed all test results to date.

Three projects at Pugsley Creek Park are underway, funding untouched. A new $2.7 million greenway is nearly complete. A $1 million playground will include play equipment and two basketball courts. The ball field north of Lacombe Avenue is set for a $1.4 million renovation that will begin in a few months, Moser said. According to Nestler, the Parks Department has withheld test results of soil at Pugsley Creek Park. The Parks Department did inform CB9 when it found heavy metals in the park. The city excavated, and then capped two hot spot areas with topsoil and asphalt.

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