March 31, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
A new ranger station is about to open at Gantry Plaza State Park – bringing much-needed public restrooms.
The long-awaited restrooms are a component of the station that will also feature a reception area and two offices. The ranger station will serve as the main office for the park and replaces an old trailer that was stationed inside the park–near the terminus of 47th Road.
The new station, which is located between the Hunters Point Library and 47-20 Center Blvd., is expected to open by May 1, according to Leslie Wright, the regional director of NYS Parks.
Wright said that the 1,250 square foot building will contain two gender-neutral restrooms and one family restroom – all of which will be directly accessible via an adjacent plaza area inside the park.
Residents have been calling for extra restrooms for years as the number of visitors to Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point South Park continues to rise. The two waterfront parks are becoming more popular, particularly as new residential buildings continue to be developed along the waterfront.
News of the restrooms opening was welcomed by the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy. The group, which helps with the upkeep of the parks, said the restrooms will make the park more enjoyable to use.
“We are excited about the addition of much-needed restrooms to the park which will continue to improve the visitor experience and keep the park as a world-class destination,” said Rob Basch, president of the HPPC.
The new restrooms will be the first inside Gantry Plaza State Park that are standalone.
The state does provide restrooms inside 46-10 Center Blvd., a residential building alongside the park, and at its nearby sports field, located between Center Boulevard and Fifth Street.
The only standalone restrooms inside Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point South Park, up until now, are located at LIC Landing – near the Oval. These restrooms are known for their long lines during the warmer months and are operated by NYC Parks, since it is a city park.
The LIC Landing area, in particular, is thronged with visitors in the summer who often stay for long periods. Many come to the area to eat and drink – since the busy spot contains a large picnic area as well as a café – which increases the demand for the restrooms.
“The lines are huge, they’re not big enough and they get messy and overrun,” said Basch, while recognizing they are costly to maintain and to keep secure.
He said that a number of new high-rise buildings are also being constructed at the southern end of the park as part of the 5,000-unit Hunters Point South development project – which will put even more pressure on the existing restrooms when new residents arrive.
The mega HPS project is comprised of seven parcels – A through G. Related Companies completed 925-units on Parcels A and B in 2015 but the rest have still to be completed.
The city plans to put a new set of public restrooms inside one of the buildings at parcel G – the southernmost parcel.
However, Basch said that those new restrooms would do little to ease the current strain on the LIC Landing restrooms since they would be a considerable walking distance away.
“The LIC Landing restrooms are still going to be packed,” he said.