Aug. 18, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
Better late than never.
The state is close to completing the repairs to the walkway lights at Gantry Plaza State Park that have been tripping out since Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012.
The NYS Parks Dept. is in the process of fixing 99 pathway lights at the park, with 72 fixtures repaired so far, according to the agency.
The remaining 27 lights, which are located in the northern portion of the park near Anable Basin, are expected to be operational by next month, according to the New York State Parks Dept.
Residents have long called for the repair of lights since many fixtures have been faulty or unreliable over the past decade. The loss of lights has meant that significant areas of the park have been dark at night raising safety concerns among residents.
The state, as an interim measure, put in place two generator-powered sets of lights, with one set located on the pathway by the Pepsi sign and another nearby.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney advocated for the lights to be fixed, as did the Hunters Point Park Conservancy, a local volunteer group that helps with the upkeep of the park.
Leslie Wright, regional director of the NYS Parks Dept., said in late 2020 that the agency did a comprehensive analysis of the cause of the outages and determined that the 2012 storm completely destroyed the underground wiring.
She said that individual lights were repaired over the years, but they failed to work on a consistent basis due to the faulty wiring. The damage caused the lights to break or trip out.
NYS Parks Dept. developed a plan to fix the wiring and the lights with work on the project commencing in March. The total cost of the design and repair work is $1.5 million and is being funded entirely by the NYS Parks Dept., Wright told the Queens Post/LIC Post Wednesday.
“The current project addresses all the walkway lighting throughout the park,” Wright said.
“The project is going very well with only a bit of a slowdown due to supply chain issues for the remaining 27 fixtures. Once those 27 fixtures arrive, they will be installed and the project [will be] wrapped up.”
Wright said that the agency will address other lighting outages at the park at a later date.
For instance, decorative lights on the gantries are in need of repair and lights along the piers are also not functioning, Wright said.
She said the agency does not currently have a timeframe on when those repairs will commence.
“That project is in the early stages of evaluation and design,” Wright said.
Rob Basch, president of the HPPC, welcomed the progress being made to fix the walkway lights.
“Starting with Hurricane Sandy we’ve been a long time waiting [for the lights to be repaired] but we appreciate the diligence of state officials to finally get this done,” Basch said. “It will make the park a lot safer.”
Basch said he is also looking forward to seeing the generator-powered sets of lights being removed, given that they are loud when turned on and produce toxic fumes.
News that the repairs are nearing completion comes a week after Councilmember Julie Won called for extra lighting to be put in place at Long Island City’s other waterfront park, Hunters Point South Park.
The New York City Parks Dept. manages Hunters Point South Park, a city park than runs from the inlet area opposite 50th Avenue to the southernmost tip of the park known as Gotham Point.
New York State Parks Dept. oversees Gantry Plaza State Park, which runs from Anable Basin in the north to the southernmost pier near the intersection of Center Boulevard and 50th Avenue.
Won said that new lighting was particularly needed by stairways and slopes at Hunters Point South Park.
Some residents have long complained that there is not sufficient lighting at the southern section of the park including a hill area at Gotham Point and the walkway facing the East River in front of Ottomanelli’s. The HPPC has called for new pole lighting to be installed in these areas.
Furthermore, some lights that illuminate the benches and pathways at Hunters Point South Park are currently not functioning.