By Eric Jankiewicz
The long overdue completion of Little Bay Park’s comfort station was announced Friday even if visitors had to use portable toilets because the comfort station still was not finished.
“I’m happy to be here, but how long will it be before we come back for the opening of the comfort station?” state Sen. Tony Avella (D- Bayside) (D-Bayside) asked on a sunny afternoon, standing on the freshly paved parking lot.
The park sits just at the entrance of Fort Totten, where a fireworks show will be held for the first time July 1. The new parking lot is part of a decade-long project that is now partially complete. Over the years, the city has postponed the completion date several times and most recently the city Parks Department had set the date for this fall.
But with the first-ever firework show set to light up the sky around Fort Totten, officials pushed construction through so that there would be parking space for the large crowd that officials are expecting for the show.
The plans had originally called for a 100-space lot, but it will now be able to hold 224 vehicles.
“Every now and then you have to bark and bite, but look at what it’s led to finally,” Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) said. “
Avella and former U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman secured millions of dollars in 2004 to install bathrooms and expand the parking lot. Ackerman’s seat is now held by U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D- Melville), who attended the opening ceremony at Little Bay Park, which is named for the bay that it faces.
And while the money was set aside at that time, the Parks Department did not break ground until 2013 and everything was supposed to be ready by the fall of 2014. When that deadline was missed, a Parks spokeswoman said the parking lot project would be finished by this spring. And that deadline was also missed.
“I’m waiting desperately for the comfort station to be open,” Avella said. During the news conference a truck drove up to deliver three portable toilets, underscoring the senator’s wish for a rapid solution.
He also noted that as Queens begins to get its share of the spotlight, more people will be visiting the borough’s parks.
“So many people are using [Fort Totten Park]. It has certainly been discovered,” he said.
Reach reporter Eric Jankiewicz by e-mail at ejank