A note to Santa from Jerome Park December 2013

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Dear Santa,

For more than 40 years, I have been involved in the Reservoir and Pigeon Park. It started with trying to find the right agency to clean up around the reservoir. Then it was creating a running path so people would not have to run on the dirt. I also had to fight to get the inner fence put in after a bunch of youth went swimming and fell in. After that I found out that the government wanted to build a plant in the reservoir, and so I had my people organize. In the end, I never did get it cleaned, and they are just getting the jogging path built half way around. Please listen to my saga and help.

If justice delayed is justice denied, then it follows that a promised capital projects delayed for more than a few years is just another way to say no. This is about the construction administration which failed to care about people as they chose goal oriented productivity, as well as those who quietly acquiesced to go along for the ride.

All in all, this policy of neglect left a complete breakdown of community building, activity and participation. As evidenced by unemployment figures of more than 12% — the highest in the state, this policy did little to spur the promised boost to the local economy. Spending close to $4 billion on the Croton Water Treatment Plant in the northwest Bronx, and other projects such as the new Gateway shopping mall, and the redevelopment of Yankee Stadium, has made little or no impact on the local or borough economy.

In 2004, in return for building a filter plant in Van Cortland Park, the City Council signed an agreement to spend $200 million to create parks — the largest capital budget expenditure for Bronx parks, which should have been completed within five years. The government immediately closed off the Mosholu Golf Course at the end of 2004, and contractors were ready to go without haste. The parks projects were slower to start capital construction; they had the funding, but curiously not the personnel to assure timely management and completion.

Jerome Park Reservoir was the original site of the filter plant in 1970. When the people found out what the government had been planning, they rose up and fought for their beloved reservoir. In 1993 they asked for permission to walk on the inside roadway near the water, which was granted. The people did this upstate and in Central Park. Since that time, the community has asked for permission to walk inside the level roadway alongside the water. Every year the agency in charge put it off.

After 1999, when it became clear that they could not build the plant in Jerome Park Reservoir, the agency went after the Golf Course, but would not give up the reservoir. They also held up the National Register of Historic Places nomination. In 2006, they told the community they had important work to do around the reservoir but it would not take long – they were going to consolidate the work and put it across the street from Bronx HS Science. In August 2013, this work was exclaimed to be completed in a press release — but alas the sound wall is still up, construction is still ongoing, and the trailers are still on parkland.

The December 2013 Croton monitoring committee explained that access to inside the fence would not be allowed until 2021 after they — complete the filter plant around 2015, complete reservoir capital projects around 2016, and then use it to prepare for the closing of and switch to a new valve for the Delaware Aqueduct. The area that they are using for construction is on parkland that they have been in control of since 1985.

Mosholu Golf Course has been off limits since December 2004. The federal agreement to build the Croton plant was signed in 2005 and it stated that if the plant were not completed by October 2011 the agency would be fined. These delays have cost the public money, removed 43 acres from public use for almost ten years, including the Mosholu Golf clubhouse, putting range and part of the course, itself.

New Parks for the 21st Century was the promise made to the City Council and the media, that $200 million would be spent on Bronx Parks. The latest report from the Comptroller shows only $146 of $186 million mitigation completed after 10 years. So what was $40 million per year is now $15 to $20 million per year, which is not a big mitigation deal.

Jerome Park Reservoir Jogging Path is one of the delayed parks projects. This work is progressing outside of the fence on Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) land. There is also not enough money to put the jogging path around the whole 2 miles of the reservoir (including the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail part).

150 or so trees were removed but never replaced. Delays incurred at JPR Jogging path were for many reasons including the need to have trees removed due to encroachment of the berm of the reservoir – a task that could have been taken care of by the agency over the forty years the community has asked for maintenance. Trees were cut down, but the agency will not agree with how many new trees to replace, despite the City Council Law (which they say they are above). What about the million trees is not good enough for the Bronx?

The Old Croton Aqueduct Trail Pedestrian Bridge was part of the original ULURP approved in 1999, along with $43 million in mitigation of Van Cortlandt Park and Mosholu Golf Course. The DEP stalled on doing the study and then when it was done, stated that they do not have enough money to do it. Strange that the government could find funds to fix the Highbridge (which is part of the Old Croton Aqueduct system), but not the pedestrian bridge. Moreover, the full length of the trail in Westchester is a continuous path, but as you can see from the Jogging Path project, not in the Bronx!

Santa, it would be great if you would remove some of these hindrances. Please return the water to the reservoir as I am getting all dried up.


Jerome Park

4 Responses to “A note to Santa from Jerome Park December 2013”

  1. By Bay Terrace Phil on Dec 23, 2013 | Reply

    I feel your frustration. Across the TNB in Queens we have been waiting for a bathroom (in NYC Parks lingo, comfort station) and an expanded parking lot to be constructed in Little Bay Park for almost eight years! City Council funds were allocated by now-NYS Senator Tony Avella, a press conference was held with Avella, then NYCPR Commish Benepe and the Bay Terrace Community Alliance. We had one delay after another including the co-mingling Federal Transportation monies for a highway project with the Little Bay Park projects that has also been delayed.

    Before construction finally began earlier this year, the community was told that an archeological study had to be conducted by NYS Parks on the ground where the bathrooms and the adjacent parking lot was going to be worked on adding further delay, The land in question was all LANDFILL from when the Cross Island Parkway was first built. In the meantime, while the work is no finally proceeding, a big portion of LBP is off limits for park lovers. We hope that Parks word that the bathrooms and parking lot will be open to the public in the fall of 2014. Seeing will be Believing.

  2. By karen on Dec 23, 2013 | Reply

    @Phil, it is so sad. We can only pray that the new Mayor will have the sense to work with the community and not against. What is the name of your park?

  3. By Dorothea on Dec 26, 2013 | Reply

    5000 to 8000 soccer /cricket players and their families and spectators have been without a restroom each weekend in ferry point park since the beautiful large copper roofed restroom was destroyed in the late 70’s. Without a restroom or funds for port-o-sans the first soccer field was built in the 80’s. Soccer was added in the outfields of the baseball fields rendering them useless. Our requests for much needed maintenance and path and road repairs went unheeded. Croton money put Ferry Point Park back on the map for a master plan. We asked not to add the synthetic field without a restroom first. Ignored…finally in 2010 a sign and construction fence indicated the soon to. be constructed restroom…sign came down and still no restroom. More leagues were added from Crotona Park…no restrooms… 2013 FRIENDS OF FERRY POINT WENT ON STRIKE …thousands of hours of volunteer work halted…2014 may bring the Croton funded restroom….or it may not….we are thankful for the pathways, waterfront node and even the water fountains that may someday deliver water to these thousands of people each EACH WEEKEND THAT USE THE LITTERED WOODS TO RELIEVE THEMSELVES….

  4. By Anita on May 5, 2014 | Reply

    The DEP will be giving a presentation on their Jerome Park Reservoir’s Gate House Rehab to Bronx CB 8’s Environmental/Sanitation Committee on 5/21/14. If you would like to preserve the historical nature of the Gate House’s, attending that meeting would be highly advised.

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