Councilman Lew Fidler is demanding the city’s aesthetic gatekeepers provide bocce players in Marine Park with an inexpensive pre-fabricated awning instead of costing taxpayers 10-times as much on a custom-built sunscreen.
Fidler told the Marine Park Civic Association that he’s put together $1.5 million for landscaping in Marine Park — an allocation that would include the awning the councilman has priced at $75,000. But he claims the city’s Public Design Commission will only allow the construction of a $750,000 sunblock that will need to be built on site. And to Fidler, that’s outrageous.
“The Parks Department can use the funding I have provided to purchase a perfectly acceptable pre-fabricated for the bocce courts,” he explained. “But the policy of the Public Design Commission is to reject any pre-fabricated materials.”
Fidler didn’t layout his plan of attack against the city agency, but said he’s ready to rumble if they get in his way.
“I am prepared to fight the Public Design Commission to the hilt,” Fidler raged. “I will not permit such a massive waste of tax payer’s money, and I am determined to get the Marine Park Bocce Players the all-weather roof that they have wanted for so long.”
Fidler is not the first public servant to run up against the Public Design Commission in an attempt to shade the bocce courts in Marine Park; former Assemblyman Frank Seddio allocated $50,000 to fix up their courts more than seven years ago.
Like Fiddler, Seddio said the city was asking too much.
“They wanted some ridiculous number that’s insane,” he said. “There’s two types of structures they considered, a permanent one that could have withstood an atomic bomb, and a prefabricated structure that would have cost around $70,000 and could have lasted 30 years.”
Instead of getting the cheap and effective structure they needed, because Seddio could come up with enough money to meet the Public Design Commission’s demands, the bocce players ended up receiving two flimsy metal sheets — after they built their own supports.
“Frank Seddio left us $50,000 and all we got from the city were two awning covers, worth about $500,” said 83-year-old bocce club member Michael Camporeale. “The Parks Department just kept the money, claiming it was appropriated for capital improvements, which they haven’t done.”
The Public Design Commission did not return calls for comment.
Reach reporter Colin MIxson at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-4514.