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Prospect-ive delays: Park fixes could be stalled due to problematic contractor

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Contractors failed to meet their November deadline for a $2.4-million project to repair sidewalks and install other beautifying elements along Flatbush Avenue bordering Prospect Park, according to a Parks Department spokeswoman, who said the agency chose not to fire the company behind the job, which could lead to additional delays.

The so-called Flatbush Avenue Perimeter project is one of several capital initiatives meant to improve the borders of Brooklyn’s Backyard, and was originally set to be completed well before a roughly $3 million scheme to construct two additional Flatbush Avenue entrances to the park between Grand Army Plaza and the Prospect Park Zoo kicked off this summer, according to spokeswoman Maeri Ferguson.

But contractor Akal Builders ran into trouble early on in the project, and work stalled in the spring when workers unexpectedly stumbled upon problematic underground infrastructure, and then again in the fall due to heavy rains, Ferguson said.

And, while the Parks spokeswoman couldn’t say when or why, the contractor at some point stopped coming to work, which caused agency officials to scramble to get the project back on track.

In January, Parks reps told members of the Prospect Park Community Committee — a body representing various local groups that meet with city reps on a monthly basis to discuss the park — that they were considering defaulting their contractor, but the agency has since chosen to continue relying on Akal, according to Ferguson, who said ditching the contractor would only result in further delays.

The project is now expected to be completed sometime this summer, according to the Parks spokeswoman, who noted that, while the project’s budget has increased over earlier estimates, the project did not suffer any cost overruns as a result of the delay.

As is, less than a quarter of the total project area — which extends from Grand Army Plaza to the zoo — has been completed, and the new sidewalk that has been laid remains surrounded by muck and fenced off to pedestrians, with barricades erected on Flatbush Avenue providing pedestrians a narrow path around the construction area. Akal is also responsible for installing new fences, benches, and light poles as part of the project.

Park patrons were not happy to learn that work would continue into Prospect Park’s busy season, and demanded the city pick up the pace.

“It’s not fair to do this in the summer,” said Borough Park resident Nechumi Yaffe. “This is their job, to have it fixed.”

But an early advocate for the sidewalk remediation project said he hopes locals don’t blame the Parks Department for their contractor’s failings.

“It’s frustrating when the park, the city, and elected officials have all done their part and then the contractor disappears,” said Seth Kaplan, a founding member of Parks4Us — a park advocacy group.

— with Natallie Rocha

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 12:23 pm, March 26, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Andrew Porter from Brooklyn Heights says:
The work is also next to the fence around the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The sidewalks there, street lighting, etc., are also part of the project.
March 26, 9:49 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Fix the park, build more bike lanes, And ban cars. Next.
March 26, 9:59 am
Janet from Park Slope says:
The roadways for entering the park have been mid-work, i.e., with spray-painted "P"s where the painted stencils of pedestrians belong, for close to a year.
March 26, 11:04 am
Barry from Chitown says:
What a dump
March 26, 1:10 pm
Lee from Greenpoint says:
let's get rid of the stupid bikers, bikers should pay taxes, fees and penalties for driving on sidewalks and wrong directions,
March 26, 2:48 pm
Learn Grammar says:
Let's get rid of this stupid Lee from Greenpoint. Are you really that dim that you think only motorists pay taxes or that there are no penalties for breaking the law on a bicycle? Maybe learn a thing or two before you open your mouth.
March 26, 3:38 pm
Francine from Huddersfield, NJ says:
I feel like I’ve been waiting for years - and why? Incompetence!!!!
March 26, 5:12 pm
Wiccan Princess from The Universe says:
Learn Grammar = Henry Ford = Midge from Mill Basin All the same nasty comments and demeanor This person is mentally ill
March 26, 5:24 pm
Charimen Mao says:
Cycling was great for communist China. Now even they are expanding their vehicle usage. I think they learned their lesson.
March 27, 7:29 pm

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