Sometimes a walk down memory lane is enjoyable. In this case, not so much:
-Oct. 19, 2010, WNYC’s Matthew Schuerman reported that the terminally stalled East River reconstruction project would be finished by July 2011.
-Jan. 13, 2011, The Villager added new details: “Structural renovations to the park, which began in mid-2005, are slated for completion by early spring, according to John Natoli, chief engineer of the city’s Parks Department. Workers are now finishing the final 600 feet of the new, 6,600-foot riverfront walkway, the key component of the construction project. Joggers, walkers and skateboarders will soon have use of the esplanade’s full length. The project’s landscaping will be completed by early summer, in time for the park’s peak-usage summer months.”
WNYC even posted the following photo on its website:
See the “July 2011” sticker pasted over an earlier projected completion date? Last week, that sign (or another one very much like it) lay in the dirt behind a chainlink fence:
Anyone who walks or runs past the three block stretch of the park that remains under construction might be a bit skeptical that the mayor or parks commissioner will be coming to the Lower East Side for a ribbon cutting ceremony anytime soon. Big piles of dirt remain. A large barge still floats in the water. Final paving work is yet to begin.
Curious about this state of affairs, we placed a call to the Parks Department. Here’s what we found out.
Spokesman Phillip Abramson noted that “most of the park is already open to the public.” He said “all remaining work including the installation of the seasonal plantings will be completed by the fall.” As for the cranes and mounds of dirt (making the area look very much unfinished), Abramson explained that this section of the promenade “was used as construction staging until recently and will be the last area restored.”
“Although the area will be open in the summer,” he added, “the plantings will arrive later.” Abramson indicated that July date was revised some time ago: “There have been delays but the fall ’11 completion date has been projected for quite some time now.”
(Incidentally, a notice on the Parks Department web site still reads: “The waterfront promenade is closed between 8th Street and Delancey Street. We are reconstructing the bulkhead, seawall and promenade. The project includes new subsurface and pavement, plantings, pedestrian lighting, benches and other site amenities and links with the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. Anticipated Completion: Summer 2011.”)
Asked whether festivities for the opening have been planned, Abramson replied, “we haven’t yet made a determination on an opening ceremony.”
It’s safe to say no one on the Lower East Side is holding his or her breath.