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Delays hinder progress of West. Square parks

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The reconstruction of Owen Dolen Park and Pearly Gates Playground have once again been delayed, upsetting local residents and community leaders that have been fighting for progress in Westchester Square.

Beginning last April with phase one, the reconstruction of Owen Dolen Park soon was halted last May due to disapproval from the Department of Buildings for objections to the submitted plans.

Much to the frustration of local leaders and residents yet another bump in the road has halted construction of the nearly $ 6 million project.

According to a spokesperson for Parks, construction at Owen Dolen is delayed due to the discovery of a buried manhole that must be cleaned out, but they are expecting the contractor to resume this work this week.

“Both of these park constructions have been delayed so many times,” said Councilman Jimmy Vacca. “These things should be a matter of course and people are running out of patience.”

According to Vacca the $1.5 million in renovations for Pearly Gates Playground has been delayed due to a conflict between the contractors on the project and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on the insurance requirements because of the playgrounds close proximity to MTA property.

“Originally renovations were supposed to start in August, but it came and went and low and behold nothing happened,” said Sandi Lusk of the Westchester Square – Zerega Improvement Organization. “I know there are various issues, but maybe some better planning would have taken care of this. How long do we have to wait for these things to get going?”

Lusk is concerned that with Owen Dolen in construction, Pearly Gates is the only playground in the high-density area.

“These kids need that space and I intend to have events there so we do not want this to run into next spring or summer,” said Lusk. “I really hope both of these projects get back on track soon because I don’t want this to ruin the summer and warm weather for kids of the community.”

Parks expects work to begin on Pearly Gates within the next several weeks.

“Everything the City has done has sets us back. They can’t even repair a park let alone redesign one and these are the only parks for children in this community,” said John Bonizio, president of the Association of Merchants and Business Professionals of Westchester Square. “This is just another example of the Mayor telling the people of the Bronx to drop dead.”

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