Two sets of playing fields in J.J. Byrne Park have been rendered useless as the city began renovating the northern section of the park before a private developer finished his long-overdue, and city-mandated, rehab of the southern park.
“The situation is intolerable,” said Community Board 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman of the park, which is bordered by Third and Fourth streets and Fourth and Fifth avenues. “We have parks users who have been more than patient and reasonable and, frankly, we’re going to have to take a look at what other options we have.”
In 2005, the city let developer Shaya Boymelgreen, who is developing the Novo condos at 343 Fourth Ave., use the southern handball courts and cement ballfield as a staging area for his 12-story, 113-unit behemoth.
In return, Boymelgreen was required to complete the renovations before his residents could move in.
The first deadline in 2006 came and went, as did the most recent deadline on Aug. 27, yet Boymelgreen was given a temporary certificate of occupancy in June anyway, said a Department of Buildings spokeswoman. Tenants are moving in, and the whole situation is “outrageous,” Hammerman said.
“[Boymelgreen] negotiated in good faith a plan to make the park whole again, and they have been unable to meet any of their deadlines for completion,” he explained. “They’re under an agreement with the Parks Department to repair the park before they would be allowing people to move in.”
Parks spokesman Phil Abramson said the agency still believes that Boymelgreen will make good on his promised $1.6-million renovation, which will include new handball courts, basketball courts, a dog run, a garden, and a skate park.
Abramson added that the city didn’t want to hold up its own renovations of the park and started its $3-million renovations to convert an asphalt yard to a synthetic turf field. Playground renovations will begin once the field renovations are complete.
“Initially, we didn’t want to start until [Boymelgreen’s renovations] were all done, but now we don’t want to delay it even more,” Abramson said.
“Our staff inspects their site twice a week and we’re in communication with them. We hope that construction will be done relatively soon and that that part of the park can be reopened.”
A spokeswoman for Boymelgreen did not return messages for comment.