Frank M. Charles Memorial Park is getting spruced up.
With Sandy debris lingering nearly six months after the storm, Councilmember Eric Ulrich has partnered with the Doe Fund to help clean up the community park, which is run under the auspices of by Gateway National Recreation Area.
Nine “men in blue” from the Doe Fund, which finds work for homeless men and women, will help remove debris in what is considered a neighborhood park, although it’s under the National Park Service (NPS) umbrella.
Ulrich said he reached out to George McDonald, president and founder of the Doe Fund, after coverage of the park’s worsened condition following the storm.
“This was a reaction to the published newspaper reports about the terrible conditions in Charles Park,” Ulrich said.
The councilmember said further pressure had to be put on NPS to secure that Charles Park and other parts of Gateway get the same attention that parks across the country do.
“It’s an absolute disgrace,” Ulrich said of the delayed clean up, adding it should not have taken a storm like Sandy to bring the park’s conditions to the public eye. “The federal government has to live up to their obligation.”
McDonald, who partnered with Ulrich to bring workers to Broad Channel after the storm, said the program won’t only clean up the park, but give the crew a second chance.
“For the past 25 years, New Yorkers have been so generous to The Doe Fund and to the ‘men in blue’—helping their fellow New Yorkers to re-establish their careers and become fathers to their children,” McDonald said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to give back. I thank Councilmember Ulrich for thinking of us.”
Community Board 10 recently voiced opposition to a proposal from Gateway and NYC Parks Department that listed Charles Park as a possible site for concession stands, bike terminals or kayak launching bays. Board members first want the park to be cleaned up, and get more outreach from Gateway, before anything else comes in.
“It’s my understanding that Doe fund is volunteering labor to do it, which is certainly commendable,” said board chair Elizabeth Braton. “However, it does not remove the obligation of the Parks Service to provide continuous, ongoing maintenance at the facilities they are responsible for.”