Spencer Estates Residents Say No To Park Access Gate

You may have heard of the famous Watergate or Monicagate, but you can call this Gategate.

The latest chapter in the saga of the access gate to Pelham Bay Park on Watt Avenue played out on Wednesday, April 20, when Pelham Bay Park administrator Marianne Anderson addressed the monthly Spencer Estate Civic Association meeting.

Spencer Estate residents had the chance to tell Anderson, who represented the Parks Department, why they are concerned any potential access to the park along Watt Avenue will create quality of life problems in their area, such as overcrowding and parking difficulty.

Anderson was confident that the Parks Department would be able to address most concerns when the renovation finally takes place.

The Parks Department has been planning a renovation to the southeastern end of Pelham Bay Park for several years. For as long as that planning has been going on, Spencer Estaters have been fretting that it will lead to more access to the park which will in turn cause visitors to clog up their neighborhood. Spencer Estate residents who attended the meeting were unanimously and vehemently opposed to the idea of access along Watt Avenue. There is already one locked gate on Library and Watt avenues, which the Parks Department says is necessary to perform maintenance in the park, and renovations may lead to another locked gate for Parks Department access only on Bayshore and Watt Avenue.

“They say it’s just for maintenance, but I don’t believe it,” said Carmen Avelina, who lives on nearby Research Avenue.

There is not yet a timetable for the renovation of the southeastern end of Pelham Bay Park, which is the area that borders Spencer Estate.

The Parks Department has not even put the project out for bid yet, so the details of what goes where, including the Watt Avenue fence are still malleable.

The initial plans, made three years ago, called for a gathering area with benches at Watt and Bayshore avenues. Spencer Estate residents didn’t like that plan, so they flexed their muscle and had it nixed.

The current fence along Watt Avenue is only about four feet high and easily scalable. Anderson suggested that if the Parks Department does build the additional service gate, it will be locked at all times, unless work is being performed.

One option to further limit access would be to raise it to about eight feet, thus make it harder to climb.

“We have to clean in there,” Anderson said. “And to make [the workers] walk all the way over, honestly is a waste of resources and a waste of time.”

The main purpose of the renovation, she told the Spencer Estate group, is to renovate the old seawall that runs along Eastchester Bay.

Anderson said she plans to relate the Spencer Estate residents’ concerns to the officials in the Parks Department who have final say, but she doesn’t think accommodating them should be overly difficult.

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