The problem was reported, but no immediate action was taken. Over time, the erosion grew worse and began to spread. The sidewalk on the other side of the fence began to show signs of erosion and, eventually, began to collapse.
“It just kept getting worse,” Monning told me the other day, showing me pictures she took of the hole in its infancy.
Pretty soon, what began as a small hole developed into a crater large enough to swallow a station wagon. Guardrails were put up, but the sidewalk around the crater didn’t appear stable. If you dared to get close enough, you’d notice that the ground surrounding the perimeter of the hole was unsupported.
The lesson to be learned is that if you don’t tackle a problem when it is small and easy to fix, it will grow and get worse and require a big, expensive fix.
It’s plain common sense. If you ignore that rattle coming from your engine instead of taking it to the mechanic right away, sooner or later your car won’t start and you’ll need a tow. If you ignore that drip from beneath your sink, and try to catch the water in a pan instead of calling the plumber, eventually the water will cause more damage and you’ll have a big repair on your hands.
This hole could have and should have been fixed over three years ago when it first developed, but it was allowed to get worse and spread and become a danger. Only when it became a story in the papers did the Parks Department mobilize and close the sidewalk.
If you think they’re being proactive by fixing this hole, think again. They were embarrassed into taking action.
The reason this problem was allowed to fester and become worse is a lack of money and resources being allocated to our park. This has nothing to do with the way the park itself is managed – the Parks employees in Forest Park work hard to maintain the park with the resources they are given.
But the resources they are given is inadequate.
Take a walk along Forest Park Drive, also known as the Brooklyn-Queens GreenWay, from Woodhaven Boulevard past the carousel, past the bandshell, past the golf course all the way past Oak Ridge to Forest Parkway and Park Lane South.
What will you see? You will see broken, crumbling sidewalks, curbs busted or missing, and large sections of sidewalk sloppily repaired with asphalt. Many of the staircases leading to the greenway are in no better shape, with many hand railings having fallen off years ago.
And while the Parks Department is working on one sinkhole, another is developing less than 50 yards away. Directly across from the bandshell – right near the path known locally as Baby Carriage Lane – there is yet another cistern surrounded by erosion, probably about a year or so behind the one that’s being addressed now. The sidewalk has been patched with asphalt, but that’s all it is – a patch.
Will the Parks Department learn their lesson from the giant sinkhole they are currently working on, the one they could have fixed easily back in 2011? Or will they continue to patch it and put off the inevitable, until it gets worse and becomes another danger; a sequel to the sinkhole they are reluctantly dealing with now?
I’m willing to bet they’ll let it go until it gets worse, but the problem is finding someone to bet against that. Some lessons are never learned.