Nov. 18, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
The state is putting together plans to fix the lights in Gantry Plaza State Park that have been tripping out since Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012.
The NYS Parks Dept. aims to revamp the entire underground wiring system at the park. The damaged wiring is responsible for most of the lights not working.
The loss of the lights has meant that significant portions of the park are dark at night raising safety concerns among residents.
The Hunters Point Parks Conservancy conducted a recent study of the pathway lights in the park–in the section between Anable Basin and 47th Road. The conservancy found that only 12 of the 58 pathway lights functioned.
Leslie Wright, regional director of the NYS Parks Dept., said 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 have been repaired over the years but they have failed to work on a consistent basis due to the faulty wiring.
“We’ve fixed the lights over and over again and spent a lot of time and resources in doing so but it [the wiring] all needs to be replaced and be made flood-proof,” Wright said. “The aim is to have permanent, cost-effective, appropriately illuminated lighting throughout the park that is durable to light the pathways.”
Wright said the new project is in the design phase and that the new wiring system will be rolled out on a phased basis with the pathway lights at the park fixed first. She did not provide a timeline as to when the wiring repairs would be made nor how much they would cost.
The state currently has two generator-powered sets of lights in place as a temporary measure. One set is located on the pathway by the Pepsi sign while the other is set up nearby. The lights are owned by state parks and cut out at 10 p.m.
There are many lights in the park– besides the pathway lights– that are not in working order. The state plans to fix these too when the rewiring is done. The pathway lights, however, are the priority.
There are two tall lights at the end of Center Boulevard by Anable Basin that don’t work, and decorative lights on the gantries are in need of repair, according to the HPPC. Some lights along the piers are also not functioning.
Wright said that the state will attempt to fix broken lights on a spot basis until the rewiring job is done. She said that the agency is aware that they may short out again.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said that she will push the state to make sure the lights are repaired, noting that the lack of lighting poses a significant risk to residents.
“Having three-quarters of the lights in Gantry Plaza State Park broken is a serious quality of life and safety issue,” Maloney said in a statement Wednesday.
“I will continue to work with the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy and neighborhood residents in pushing the State Parks Department to make these necessary repairs immediately,” she said.
The new plans won praise from Rob Basch, president of the HPPC, who said that the conservancy has been advocating for the broken lights to be repaired for some time.
“We want Gantry Plaza State Park to have the lighting it deserves so everyone can enjoy this spectacular park safely after dark–during official park hours,” Basch said. “We are ready to help assist the state in any way possible.”