Long-delayed plans to construct a comfort station at Bayside’s Little Bay Park are back on track after seven years of derailment, officials said.
The bidding process for the capital project has begun and will last until July 31, said a spokesperson for the city’s Parks Department. While the spokesperson said a construction time line will only be available after all bids are received and evaluated, State Senator Tony Avella said he expects shovels to hit the ground by the end of the year.
“After years of bureaucratic delays, I am pleased that this project is finally moving forward,” Avella said. “It is a real shame that a great park like Little Bay Park, which has what I consider the best dog run in the entire city, does not have a comfort station.”
The senator rallied with Bayside community activists and residents last November to urge the Parks Department to begin the revitalization project. Avella, who previously allocated funding for a dog run in the park, apportioned $1.3 million for the public restrooms seven years ago at the same time Congressmember Gary Ackerman secured a $4.1 million federal transportation allocation to reconstruct and expand the Little Bay parking lot and rebuild the Cross Island Parkway bridge overpass at 212th Street.
Neither project has commenced, and three port-a-potties are currently stationed in the park.
The project came to a pause after funding provided by the state’s Department of Transportation required additional review and time for comments, a Parks spokesperson said. The site’s coastal wetland location and the need for new sewer connections also called for the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation and city’s Department of Environmental Protection to provide approvals on design and construction documents. The agency said the funding was secure and had not been reallocated.
Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, suspected the project slowed to a halt after the Parks Department bundled the $5.42 million in city and federal funds together — a move he said was “not a good business procedure.”
“For some reason, everything seemed to come to a stop,” he said. “I don’t think there was any wrongdoing or corruption in handling the funds. It just wasn’t handled properly.”
But a Parks spokesperson said combining city and federal grants was not unusual when funding municipal capital projects.
Schreiber also pushed for the agency to make Requests for Proposals available to the public to see if any changes have been made to the seven-year-old plan.
“It could still be at least another 18 months before we actually get to use the comfort station at that location,” he said.
— Additional reporting by Michael Pantelidis