They know money doesn’t grow on trees.
The Parks Department must prove it is not soaking taxpayers on a $4.2-million bathroom-renovation project in a Bay Ridge green space, locals are demanding. Residents have advocated for the city to refurbish the Shore Road Park field house near 95th Street for years, but now that officials have agreed to revamp the dilapidated space with two bathrooms, a meeting room, and storage closets, locals are concerned that the price tag is too high and are calling on the city to account for the cost.
So far, officials have only gone on record that $500,000 of the multi-million-dollar project would go toward a gas line to heat the building — and that whopping figure is giving pause to locals who wonder whether the cash might be put to better use elsewhere.
“It’s not so much we disfavor the project — it’s ‘What else could be accomplished with those dollars that we’re missing out on?’ ” said board member Ann Falutico. “And even if you take the $500,000 from the $4.2 million, it’ll still cost $2,200 a square foot — it’s just a bathroom. It’s highly questionable.”
The park house was built in the 1930s and is roughly half the size of a tennis court. It was last renovated in 1999, when the building’s roof was replaced, according to project architects.
Once the renovation wraps up in June 2017, the rest area will boast new bathrooms, storage space, electrical equipment, and a common room that local groups and sports leagues can use, officials said. Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) pitched in funding for the project — which will cost the city roughly $2,600 per square foot.
But the city has yet to release a budget breakdown, despite promising in November to do so, and locals now fear that they are being taken for a ride, another critic said.
“I don’t get why this would be that expensive. I mean $4 million, really?” Gary Fascilla, who lives a few blocks from the building and regularly uses the park with his dog. “New bathrooms and a new space would be nice but that seems like a lot for a little return, and these things are never on budget.”
Indeed, construction in parks has run past schedule and over cost estimates before.
Marine Park’s single-story Carmine Carro Field House took five years to build — the same amount of time it took to construct the 104-story One World Trade Center — and went $11.5 million over its initial budget for a total cost of $16 million. The Carro Center cost taxpayers roughly $5,000 per square foot, while One World Trade Center rang in just north of $1,100 per square foot.
The project is currently in the design phase, according to project architects.
The Parks Department does not typically provide cost breakdowns and initially declined to give a full list of expenses for the Bay Ridge project, but it agreed to furnish rough estimates in November after pressure from Community Board 10.
Officials have not made good, however, and community board members voted on Dec. 19 to file a Freedom of Information Act request for the information.