By Helen Klein
A springtime groundbreaking is anticipated for the renovation of Canarsie Park. According to Dana Rubinstein, a spokesperson for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, the contract for the work – which was awarded on January 10th to William Gross Contracting – is currently, “Awaiting registration, so we don’t have a set date for the groundbreaking.” However, she added, “We expect it to be in the late spring.” The ambitious project for the park is divided into phases. Phase one, said Michael Benjamin, a representative of City Councilmember Lewis Fidler, will cost $5.3 million and has been fully funded, mostly with City Council money. Benjamin spoke about the project at the February meeting of the United Canarsie South Civic Association (UCSCA), which was held at the Hebrew Educational Society, 9502 Seaview Avenue. Benjamin said that the first phase of the park’s reconstruction would include cricket fields, a music pavilion, landscaping (including 150 new trees), new paths, a new sidewalk, new fountains, picnic tables and a fence. The second phase will include windmills and the refurbishment of the wetland areas, he added. The third phase, said Benjamin, will involve nature trails near the water. Currently, trucks are bringing in fill material to the old compost site, at the western end of the park, parallel to Paerdegat Basin. “There are a lot of 10-wheelers going through,” remarked area resident Menachem Lipkind during the UCSCA meeting. “Every couple of minutes, there’s another truck.” The purpose of adding the fill, according to Dorothy Turano, the district manager of Community Board 18, is to, “Bring the dirt to grade.” Turano said during a phone interview that the bringing in of fill is expected to take approximately one month. During the UCSCA meeting, residents questioned why the fill was being trucked in at night. “What makes the community suspicious,” remarked Lenny Fogel, UCSCA’s vice president, “is that the old compost site was put up late at night, without the input of the community.” It also costs more, according to Lipkind. “By working at night,” he remarked, “They get paid 1.6 times the regular rate, and you have to pay for lights.” But, according to the Parks Department, the plans for the compost site do not contain anything that would come as a surprise to area residents. That section of the park, according to Rubinstein, is slated for two different uses. “The area closest to Seaview Avenue will be a regulation size cricket field,” she reported. “Further back will be restored as a natural area contoured and planted as forested wetland and upland woodland and grassland.” There was concern as to where the fill was coming from. In fact, according to Rubinstein, it is coming from the large South Ferry station project undertaken by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.