Delays At Marine Park Community Center Highlight Parks Department Deficiencies

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After years of delays and millions of dollars over budget, Marine Park residents are still without a much-anticipated community center. And the project is now one of the most notable in the city as an example of the Parks Department’s waste and inefficiency.

The community center, located at the northern end of Marine Park at Fillmore Avenue was touted in a new report by New York City Comptroller John Liu that blasted the Parks Department for “not carrying out and overseeing capital construction projects in a timely and cost effective manner.”

According to the report, which audited Parks projects conducted in fiscal year 2010-2011, the agency was late on delivering 47 percent of the 315 capital construction projects completed. On average, the projects were 218 days late, nearly double the estimated time for completion.

And it’s not just a matter of delays keeping parks closed from the public. They’re racking up a price tag. Thirty projects combined to run up a tab of $10 million in cost overruns. And bungling by consultants and designers cost the city an additional $4 million to correct, an amount the agency failed to recoup despite clauses in contracts that require contractors to return the money to taxpayers.

The Marine Park Community Center, though, remains particularly galling. Its numbers are not included in the tally above – as Liu’s team only looked at projects completed during the audit period – though it earned some honorable mentions.

Noting that the park, as of August 15, 2012, was more than 33 months late from its last stated completion date, the report skewers the agency, saying they give “no way for the public to know the status of the project, including the anticipated completion time,” calls the planning procedure “haphazard” and unreliable, and even suggests that Parks officials have no idea what projects are due when.

The comptroller recommends creating new procedures to track projects, but Parks said they don’t need it.

“We know the status of all our projects at any given time,” the department responded in the report.

To that, Liu’s auditors scoffed, and pointed out several instances in their review in which Parks reps could not give them accurate – or any – information.

And, as of this writing, Parks Department has not provided an estimated completion date for the Marine Park Community Center project on its website.

The center was originally slated to open in 2009, with a price tag of $5.5 million. In 2008, the budget shot up to $11 million, and again to $16 million as of last August.

And it’s still not open.

Sheepshead Bites was told last fall that the project was just about finished, and a ribbon cutting would take place by the end of 2012. Then we heard the building’s fancy new technology – which includes solar paneling, a living green roof, and a geothermal energy system – was slowing things down because Parks employees had not been trained to use them.

And it’s still not open.

A representative at Councilman Lew Fidler’s office told us today that Sandy “threw a monkey wrench into lots of plans,” and that they’re scheduling a ribbon cutting soon.

The project, including planning, has been in the works for nearly 10 years, roughly double its expected completion time.


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