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Community Board 7 approves Parks Department proposal to reconstruct MacNeil Park seawall in College Point

Mar. 23, 2023 By Carlotta Mohamed

During its virtual meeting held on March 13, Community Board 7 voted to approve plans to reconstruct the deteriorating seawall and rip-rap along the Hermon A. MacNeil Park waterfront in College Point. 

The $8.86 million project for the seawall reconstruction at MacNeil Park, located near Poppenhusen Avenue between 115th Street and College Place, is a continuation of the seawall that was recently completed on the western end of the park. 

(Photo by Carlotta Mohamed)

In their presentation to the board, NYC Parks Department officials announced they will reconstruct the eastern interior seawall and add a searail, bringing the shoreline treatment up to state of good repair with a scenic overlook. The Parks Department will also redo the existing concrete staircase located on the western portion of the park. 

“Approximately 50% of the existing wall is in a state of advanced or severe deterioration. Multiple sinkholes are present, which pose a threat to the public, structural integrity and ecological health of the shoreline edge,” project consultant Katie Havener said. 

(Photo by Carlotta Mohamed)

In February, the CB 7 Parks Committee and the Parks Department discussed the seawall reconstruction project, where board members raised concerns about the pathway leading to the kayak launch, removal of boulders and rocks at the beach access waterfront and tree roots ripping into the seawall. The board members had requested water service amenities at the waterfront access, which includes a water fountain, a dog bowl and a kayak wash station. They also requested more seating along the waterfront and a hose near the ramp. 

Matthew Silverstein, chair of the CB 7 Parks Committee, noted that the tree roots could be one of the reasons causing the pathway to rip. It’s an issue the board would like to not revisit once the project to redo the seawall is completed, Silverstein said. 

Parks Department officials said they don’t anticipate the tree roots will penetrate through the sheet pile and abutment that will be used to redo the seawall. As the project is solely concentrated on the seawall, the Parks Department added that they will look into a project in the future to address concerns regarding the pathway, which will need to be shifted away from the trees. 

(Photo by Carlotta Mohamed)

“We need to secure the wall before we do other improvements in the area in the park to make sure it doesn’t deteriorate further,” a Parks Department representative told QNS. “We went out and looked at the site and we don’t have the funding to address what needs to be done in the pathway.” 

Concerns were also raised about the work that will need to be done on the park’s sewer outfall soon that may damage the improved kayak launch. The board members are still looking to find a temporary solution. 

“We are going to provide comments to DDC and encourage the board to do that as well when the project comes to the community board for outfall repair,” a Parks Department official said. 

As for the boulders and rocks that make it impossible for people to walk on the beach, community members are requesting the Parks Department to remove the rocks so people can safely get into their kayak without hurting themselves. 

Kathryn Cervino, president of the Coastal Preservation Network, said the level of debris on the launch has become an issue. 

“Who is responsible for keeping them clean for the public to use? To the point of rocks, if we need an interim solution that costs really nothing, it could be to just move the rocks away from the base so that you have to step down from the high concrete path,” Cervino said. “It would at least be safe for people when they’re stepping down and not stepping on or between rocks with the potential to twist your ankle.”

(Photo by Carlotta Mohamed)

According to Cervino, it’s always very challenging to access the waterfront. 

“The kayak group we work with every June for our Earth Fair said they will not provide kayaking for us anymore until this site is fixed. That’s a really huge development because we’ve been working with them for years,” Cervino said. 

James Cervino, who is the environmental chair of CB 7, said the jagged need to be placed properly with a few flat stones graded into the beach. 

“This isn’t a lot of money out of the $9 million of our taxpayer dollars that we’re putting into this project,” Cervino said. “I just did a thousand linear feet in Malba and Whitestone of rip-rap seawall. I’ll donate the stones if they place them properly so we’re not walking onto a minefield of jagged rocks. We’re talking about a few, maybe 5 or 6 feet. That’s it. That’s all we’re asking for.” 

A Parks Department official said the agency is looking at an interim solution that the borough can offer to replace some of the stones. They’re also looking into installing a wash station at the kayak launch and a storage lockbox for a hose. 

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