Skeptics still smell a food kiosk in works for park


By Albert Amateau

Recent storms have delayed the repaving project in the east side of Stuyvesant Square Park. The delay means that the park east of Second Ave. will not be reopened to the public until mid-August.

Rennit Bendavid-Val, manager of Manhattan District 6 for the Department of Parks and Recreation, told a July 25 neighborhood meeting that heavy rains had flooded quarries north of the city that were supplying bluestone paving blocks for the project.

In addition, a recent storm in the city caused a large elm tree in the east park to fall, Bendavid-Val said. The complications have also delayed installation of park lighting and water for the east fountain.

Neighbors at the meeting said the park was also plagued with a serious rat problem. Bendavid-Val explained that rainy weather had interrupted the rat baiting scheduled at two-week intervals, but the schedule was resuming this week.

She also said the department is looking for funds to replace the park’s 100 garbage cans (50 on the west side and 50 on the east side) with rat-resistant receptacles.

Bendavid-Val also confirmed that the department has rejected the latest request for proposals for a food concession in the park building on the east side of the 4-acre park and has dropped plans for it.

But members of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, who oppose a food concession in the park, remained skeptical.

“This is the fourth time in six years that the Parks Department has proposed it,” said Jack Taylor.

“Like my mother’s recipe for meatloaf, this food concession comes up every two years and it’s just as distasteful,” said Carol Scatter, a member of S.P.N.A. and chairperson of Community Board 6.

Assemblymember Sylvia Friedman, a resident of the Stuyvesant Park area for 40 years, said at the July 25 meeting that she believed granting private concessions in city parks was an illegal attempt to avoid State Legislature approval required before any public property is “alienated,” a term meaning transferred to the control of a private entity.

Friedman, who also opposes the proposed concession for a seasonal private restaurant in the pavilion at the north end of Union Square Park, said that Parks concessions are really long-term leases, rather than concessions, which can be terminated in a year or less.

“I’m opposed to the alienation of park property and as long as I’m in the Assembly there will not be restaurants in public parks,” she said, adding that she was working on Assembly support in an action against the Union Square Park pavilion restaurant.

Taylor, who is also a public member of the Landmarks Committees of Community Board 5 and 6, also called for the restoration of the historic cast-iron fence around Stuyvesant Park. Part of the fence at the north end of the east side of the park would soon crumble if not restored soon, Taylor said.

The fence restoration has long been at the top of the Community Board 6 priority list submitted to the city each year.