By Gina Martinez
After years of delays, construction on the long-awaited MacNeil Seawall is set to begin this spring.
City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski announced last week that a $4.4 million contract has been awarded to AAH Contractor to repair College Point’s crumbling seawall.
College Point residents have been fighting for repairs to be made to the waterfront path and seawall for years.
According to residents, there are holes in the seawall which only worsened after Hurricane Sandy, but despite multiple bids to contractors over the yearsthe Parks Department did not make any serious progress.
Construction on the seawall was initially set to begin in 2015, but nothing was done and the path was fenced off, angering many residents. Then in December 2016 two bidders withdrew their bids when they did not meet a mandate from the mayor’s office, further delaying the search for a contractor from spring until this fall.
Last year environmentalist Kathryn Cervino began a petition page on thepe
“Demand that the contract be awarded ASAP so that work can begin this fall and we can get the path fixed and reopened! College Point has been ignored for too long – make your voice heard!” the petition read.
At several community board and civic meetings residents were obviously losing patience and complaining to elected and Parks officials about the delays.
Despite the long wait, Vallone counts the contract as a victory for the College Point community.
“After meeting with the Coastal Preservation Network and the Parks Department in my office, the urgency of awarding this contract was made clear,” he said. “I look forward to continuing to work with the College Point community so that the dream of a vibrant MacNeil Park with waterfront accessibility is fully realized.”
The Parks commissioner added that her department was happy to select a contractor and it is moving forward on finalizing the contract so that construction can begin this winter.
“Once complete, this esplanade will be a great waterfront amenity for the residents of College Point,” she said.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said that while he is happy a contractor has been chosen, he hopes that since the community waited so long, the city will increase funding.
“I am relieved to hear that after all these years of delays the residents of College Point will finally be able to enjoy the full capabilities of MacNeil Park,” he said. “Unfortunately, since this is the third contract bidder at a higher cost, some aspects of the original project may not be done.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart