The ongoing saga of the repairs for the 97th Street ramp at Shore Road Park continues but with a hint of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel and a possible completion date in sight. After years of delays, the work is finally underway to repair the ramp to St. Patrick’s Field which offers the only nearby access to the park for sports teams, elderly individuals, baby carriages and the disabled.
When the ramp partially collapsed in late spring 2016, structural engineers from the NYC Parks Department determined that the ramp had been completely undermined and needed to be closed immediately for public safety.
The Parks Department recently promised City Councilmember Justin Brannan that a crew will be out there every day, except for weekends, working until the ramp is complete.
At the time of the collapse, Parks Department engineers investigated and found the ramp to be deficient and at the end of its useful life. Furthermore, the new ramp had to comply with ADA standards, which made the design and engineering more complicated than originally planned. The Parks Department worked closely with Community Board 10 and then-City Councilmember Vincent Gentile to keep them informed on the reconstruction of the ramp.
For some residents of the neighborhood, getting to Shore Road Park without the ramp has not been an easy task. With the 97th Street entrance closed off, the other closest entries are located at 93rd and Shore Road, and 100th Street. However, both of those entrances require the use of stairs, and the nearest ramp entrance is by the Belt Parkway, which is a greater distance away.
Coaches carrying large bags of sports equipment, including bases, bats, gloves and other sports gear must walk for blocks in order to get down to the field.
St. Patrick’s Baseball Commissioner Mike Wood voiced his displeasure with the progress being made to this paper. “We have already missed two baseball and soccer seasons down at the fields,” Wood said. “Without the ramp close by, it makes it very difficult for parents with strollers, grandparents or anyone with a disability to come down and see the games. Some kids will age out of the program before this is completed. It’s frustrating to see the initial construction site setup that largely sits with no progress being made.”
Also voicing frustration was St. Patrick’s Athletic Director Romeo Petric, who compared the time frame to repair the ramp with the building of a new school on 93rd Street. “It’s taken less time to build a brand new Pre-K building than it has to even start the rebuilding project of the Shore Road and 97th Street ramp,” Petric said. “If this had happened in Brooklyn Heights, it would have been done in a month! This is beyond unacceptable!”
Brannan has been hearing from residents about this matter since he took office. “I share the frustration of my neighbors over the seemingly endless closure of the entrance to the park at 97th & Shore – as well as the stop, start and stalled efforts to finally get a newly constructed ramp in place,” Brannan told this paper. “Truth be told, we’ve needed a new ramp here since I was a kid.”
In April 2017, Gentile wrote a letter addressed to neighbors sharing the community’s frustrations with the inaccessibility to the park.
“Unfortunately, what is required for this ramp is more than just a simple repaving or repair job,” Gentile wrote at the time. “After the most recent partial collapse, structural engineers from the NYC Parks Department determined that the ramp was completely undermined and needed to be closed for public safety. After many years of piecemeal patch jobs, it was decided that the ramp needed to be torn down and completely rebuilt.”
In July 2017, plans were revealed for the new ramp’s design and it appeared that the work would begin shortly. But the start of the repairs continued to drag on.
Though, while it took more time than originally anticipated, the work is finally underway.
“I was delighted to learn that construction at the 97th Street entrance to Shore Road Park is finally underway,” Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann told this paper. “I thank residents for their patience during the closure as I understand the frustration caused by the inconvenience and look forward to its completion.”
Having worked alongside Gentile to hasten the repairs, Brannan is also optimistic that the repairs will be finished soon.
“After many years of piecemeal patch jobs, structural engineers decided it needed to be torn down and completely rebuilt,” Brannan said. “Now, finally, work has resumed and the new design will be compliant with the American Disabilities Act. So while I know this has certainly been a long and frustrating inconvenience, once the work is done, we will have a safe, brand new and fully accessible ramp that, frankly, we’ve needed for a very long time.”
NYC Parks Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Martin Maher is confident that the work will finally be completed within months.
“We are looking forward to reopening this crucial access point to Shore Road Park in the fall,” Maher told this paper. “With improved lighting and ADA accessibility, the newly reconstructed ramp will be better than ever.”