Southern Brooklyn

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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  1. The sad fact about this whole story is that it never should have happened in the first place. Many years ago the Mayor issued an executive order stating that going forward, all new city owned buildings had to be built to new “Green”, “LEED” standards. At the time, the only exemptions were buildings that were already in a state of final design and ready to be built. That was the case with the proposed Marine Park Community Center, but somehow the entire project was scrapped and sent back to the drawing board anyway to be completely redesigned under the new requirements, even though it should have been grandfathered in due to it’s final design status. This delayed the project even further as local ploiticians had to go back and raise even more funds to cover the increased costs of the new design features. The entire episode is disgraceful, yet no one responsible for this travesty will ever be held responsible for the unneccessary waste and delays. Love your country, fear your government!

  2. That is simply inaccurate. This project was never redesigned. Other bad things happened but not this one.
    Lew from Brooklyn

  3. So you are telling me that the construction was never delayed before it started because additional money had to be allocated to cover the extra cost of the “Green” enhancements that weren’t original to the plan. I’m pretty sure that there is some truth to what I have stated. I’m sure someone can dig up the old news articles from the local papers on the project. If I’m not mistaken, the original design did not look anything like what has now been constructed. Or perhaps all traces of it vanished into thin air, just like the plans that were discussed at length at community meetings and such about the Ave. U Home Depot moving down Flatbush Ave. to a site near the Belt Parkway & Toys R Us when Lowe’s was constructed next door. Years later, all we heard about was a completely new plan as if the other never existed.

  4. Bruce, you are 100% correct. And the sad fact is that this nonsense goes on all the time in City government without repercussions. Take for instance the new stadium for the NY Mets. The previous mayoral administration spent several years and millions of dollars to come up with a winning design for the replacement stadium. Unfortunately the horror of 9/11 and the ensuing economic downturn delayed the new stadium. So what did the city do when things improved, allowing construction to begin. One would think they dusted off the expensive plans already formulated, but no, the went back to the drawing board and wasted millions more of taxpayer dollars on yet another design. Unfortunately it seems we are powerless to stop this ridiculous waste & excess perpetrated by those in power. I just don’t know what the answer is!

  5. There was hope that Kevin Jeffrey, the new Brooklyn Parks Commissioner, would not be like the do nothing, long serving political hack, that Spiegel was. And perhaps he would show some active interest in the great Brooklyn Parks, south of Prospect. Forget about it! Dyker sits for over a year now, with portable outhouse toilets, while the Parkhouse remains manned and womaned by useless supervisors, who do nothing to make sure that the area immediately surrounding them is kept in good repair . Meanwhile, the toilets at McKinley are more often out of work, than in. As our kids get more overweight, and obese, our once great tennis courts, at Dyker (Bay 8th!), Marine, and McKinley, remain in obvious disrepair, and continue to deteriorate, while the baseball and soccer fields, don’t do much better! I guess our distinguished representatives like, Gentile, Golden, Grimm, and Oddo, are too busy making their rounds on the Golf courses, to care much about really improving our important parks, to the benefit of the overwhelming majority of the rest of us! Robert Moses, park wise, where have you gone?! Shameful!!!

  6. The answer is small government, but I’m afraid that ship has long since sailed. I’m not going to get on the pedestal any longer. The economic statistics will show themselves in the years to come. I feel bad for the young people.

  7. Maybe Home Depot changed their plans when Pergament went bankrupt. It certainly was cheaper to move into an existing facility than build a new one, and it is smaller than other Home Depots. Lowe’s came years later after the community rejected relocating the movie theaters to street level, so they closed them and leased or sold the outdoor parking lot to Lowe’s.

  8. I remember Spiegel’s retirement speech in which he stated that he viewed his entire job as bringing more money into the Parks Department. Oh really? Shouldn’t a commissioner also be concerned with how the money is spent? Apparently, it wasn’t his concern. And as you point out, Jeffrey does not appear to be much better.


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