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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Park renovation may drag on until June

By Ashley Helms
Posted
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
RESIDENT JOHN LUDEMANN at the Sedgwick and Giles avenues entrance to Fort Independence Park. Construction has shut down much of the site.

Kingsbridge residents who planned on using Fort Independence Park for dog walking or a scenic stroll this spring may want to find a new location. 

As of Saturday, the park was closed to any activity — besides using the playground or bathrooms — until renovations to the park are completed. Members of the Fort Independence Park Neighborhood Association are concerned that the park will be closed throughout the spring and summer months, leaving them without a place for their dogs to exercise, and are calling for more transparency from the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) regarding construction plans.

The project will usher in improvements to the park’s storm drainage system, the jogging path and two large dog runs. Mike Sansore, superintendent for Primer, a Brooklyn-based construction company tasked with revitalizing the park, said it was originally slated to be completed by April 8, but now will most likely not open its gates until June at the earliest. 

Mr. Sansore added that leaving the playground open during construction could be hazardous for children, saying he would prefer it if the park was completely closed during the work. 

He said Primer is now doing demolition work and is in the midst of constructing a bigger basketball court. The superintendent noted that work must be done carefully to protect tree roots and that the area experienced a harsh winter season, adding some delays to the project’s timeline.

“Work could have been done this winter, but we got killed. There was two feet of snow when I first got here,” Mr. Sansore said.

Construction workers must remove the park’s cobblestones and benches and conduct other work by hand to protect the trees, Mr. Sansore said. If they are not careful, he added that Primer could be fined thousands of dollars. Besides that, he avowed, the project is moving along well.

“Other than that, it’s going smoothly. I know [residents] want it done overnight, but I’m doing the best I can,” Mr. Sansore said.

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