Could it be a matter of just weeks before the rehabilitation of Howard Beach’s Frank M. Charles Memorial Park is complete?
Dorothy McCloskey doubts it.
“We’ll be there at the ribbon cutting if that’s the case,” she said.
As the Korean War memorial and community flagpole were dedicated on Sunday, August 15 by the Friends of Charles Park Committee and American Legion Post 1404, the director of the Committee told The Courier that, “You can’t imagine the frustration the community feels toward the National Parks Service. This is our only green space.”
She explained that in March of this year a meeting was held at Our Lady of Grace. In attendance were the Deputy Secretary of Interior, the National Parks Service, Community Board 10 members, the Committee, and local politicians, including Congressmember Gregory Meeks.
Meeks had secured $200,000 for the park – $140,000 for the baseball fields to be redone and $60,000 for the tennis courts.
McCloskey said that work was to begin the following day, but “No one has contacted the Friends of Charles Park Committee or anyone else to say the work would start.”
“I feel it’s us – the Friends of Charles Park Committee and the community – that hold up our end of the bargain.”
Additionally, she said, the $1 million appropriation from Meeks has not yet been received. A spokesperson for his office did confirm that not all of the appropriations have come out yet.
However, Floyd Myers, Chief of Partnerships and Business Development for National Parks of New York Harbor, told The Courier that Charles Park is currently under renovation.
“There is work being done at the park, as well as programming,” said Myers, who explained that there is a partnership between the National Parks Service and the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation. “The project [baseball fields and tennis courts] should be finished within the next few weeks. We’re really trying our best to complete the park.”
Rita Mullally, spokesperson for the National Parks Service Jamaica Bay Unit, told The Courier that orders are being placed or contracts negotiated for the rehabilitation of the tennis courts, “will be finished and ready for play in the fall,” and playground netting. Additionally, fence repairs and other smaller projects were also in the works.
“Several dead trees were removed by a contractor last week, and I met with a contractor who gave a bid for repairs to the edges of the ball field,” said Mullally.
But McCloskey said that all they’ve gotten so far is picnic tables.
“That’s not what we asked for,” she said. “It seems we’re on this treadmill of getting nowhere. We’re concerned about all of Gateway [which is under the auspices of the National Parks Service and operates the Jamaica Bay Unit, including Charles Park].”
“The tennis courts are atrocious,” she continued, explaining that the courts were supposed to open in early summer for the New York Junior Tennis League.
She also said that the 1,500 kids who would normally use the baseball fields couldn’t this season.
“Why is the infrastructure falling apart in all of the Jamaica Bay Unit,” McCloskey wondered. “Here we have this beautiful evening, attended by the family of Authur Weigand, a Howard Beach soldier who died in Korea, and returning solider Sean McCabe with his wife and beautiful baby daughter . . . at Frank Charles Park, the jewel of Jamaica Bay.