The park, which hosts LL Cool J’s annual basketball tournament, has had temporary toilets in place for years, although the community was originally told they would be there for just a few weeks.
Funding for the project was approved in 2010, and construction began in 2015 before it suddenly came to a halt. The Parks Department said the delay is due to a problematic contractor, but officials say the issues are with the agency.
State Senator Leroy Comrie allocated $1.2 million for the comfort station while he was a member of the City Council. The project was supposed to take a year and was due to be complete in 2016.
Now the project might cost upwards of $2 million.
Councilman I. Daneek Miller argued that nearly $500,000 for the project has already been squandered by the Parks Department after hiring a contractor that could not handle the job.
Resident Ben Jameson said the delays have created an unsanitary environment for local children.
“It’s very disgusting, because the port-a-potty doesn’t have a sink for the kids to wash their hands,” Jameson said.
Several others noted that at times the water fountain and sprinkler doen’t work either.
“This impacts the young and the old,” Comrie added. “People come to this park to relax and to play with their children or grandchildren or play in tournaments. This is an unnecessary delay for a beautiful community.
“People care about their homes, they care about their families so why is this park being treated as a third-class park by the Parks Department?” Comrie asked.
Comptroller Scott Stringer said the case indicates a citywide problem that the Parks Department created itself by failing to complete projects on time and on budget.
“We’re looking at cost overruns,” he said. “With 35 percent of the projects we audited, we’re looking at budgets that get bloated. This basically is a procurement horror show at the Parks Department.”
Stringer called on the agency to build the comfort station and complete the other projects that elected officials have been funding for years.
“The kids should be running through sprinklers and should be able to use the bathroom in the safest way possible,” Stringer said.
He slammed the agency for creating high-tech playgrounds in some communities while failing to provide simple updates to others.
In an email to Miller, the Parks Department indicated it would hire a new contractor in the fall with a projected completion of summer 2019. He doesn’t believe the project will be completed by summer 2019.
He added that LL Cool J’s annual basketball camp, now in its 14th year, invests money in the community’s youth, yet the kids do not have access to basic needs like a proper bathroom.
“It’s a slap in the face to him and to the community,” Miller said.