Wednesday, March 15, 2023

CM Rivera addresses 'operations improvements' for Tompkins Square Park

In the past few years, there has been a spate of complaints and concerns about the state of Tompkins Square Park, including quality-of-life issues ranging from increased drug use and crime to a reduced Parks workforce that resulted in more litter and weed-filled gardens. 

In addition, the public restrooms had been shuttered for four months due to a malfunctioning boiler and a broken pipe in the basement of the field house. To some surprise, the restrooms reopened in early March ... only to close and reopen in the following days.

Reconstruction of the Tompkins Square Park field house is expected to start soonDuring the 18-month project, parkgoers are instructed to use restrooms at the McKinley Playground on Fourth Street between Avenue A and First Avenue adjacent to P.S. 63/the Neighborhood School. (Tomorrow night, March 16, CB3's Parks, Recreation, Waterfront, & Resiliency Committee will hear an update on the renovation project. Join via Zoom here.)

Against this backdrop, local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera released this statement yesterday, titled "Tompkins Square Park Operations Improvements" ...
Our public spaces are precious to New Yorkers. They are a respite from the busy life of the city, a meeting place for friends, an adventure for children, and beloved by all. It takes a village to care for them, and District 2 is full of beautiful, active spaces that inspire neighbors and bring the community together. 
Over the past several months, my office has been working to improve our parks by building a coalition with community members, service providers, local police precincts, community boards, colleagues in elected office, and other stakeholders to address public safety, park maintenance, and sanitation concerns at all our parks, with an operational model tailored specifically for Tompkins Square Park. With spring around the corner, this is a great time to value these neighborhood gems and maintain them together. 

Our work at Tompkins is part of a greater, funded revitalization effort that I have been working on throughout my tenure. Construction on a number of capital projects in Tompkins Square Park will start this year beginning with reconstruction of the Field House and its public restrooms that will see these structures finally meet standards for accessibility. The end of the year we will see the renovation of the multi-purpose court replacing the existing asphalt, basketball backstops, benches, drinking fountains, and other improvements.

For our daily uses at Tompkins, I have secured resources and allocated $20,000 in additional funding to bring on more dedicated staff members to improve maintenance and increase cleanup in the park, with a priority on playgrounds and pathways. I have also allocated more funding to ACE Programs to provide additional sanitation services around the perimeter of the park and the surrounding blocks on weekend mornings. ACE is a job training and employment services organization that works with homeless and formerly homeless individuals to get good jobs and help improve neighborhoods. 

There are specific mental health and substance use-related challenges at Tompkins that require community-based engagement and we are addressing these concerns with pioneering organizations Goddard Riverside and Housing Works, doing in-person engagement, and needle pickup and needle disposal kiosk maintenance, respectively. 
With all nonprofits we call partners, information and connections housing and social services are available. Along with the 9th Precinct, appropriate local concerns are responded to by NYPD's Special Enforcement Unit, and the park is closed every night in accordance with posted hours.

To see our coalition in action, please check out our video below. And as always, I encourage neighbors to stay in touch with my office with concerns and conditions of the park. I am grateful to community members for their sustained advocacy and for working to make our neighborhood a better place to live and work.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why in the hell did it take this long for her to address this issue? So frustrating!

Anonymous said...

Once I enjoyed the Park used the dog run for my retriever and sometimes took my friend's son to the playground. I will not step into it today Junkies and Hooligans run the place like a scene out of "Clock Work Orange". City and it's agencies took their eye off the ball with indifference and incompetence in most things.

Anonymous said...

One of the main problems with Thompson Square Park is that it attracts a large amount of homeless who are substance abusers and also sellers of illegal narcotics that are always there after hours taking over sections of the park. I walk the park regularly at night and I almost never see any Park Enforcement Patrol or NYPD officers in the park. They seem to show up only after an incident occurs so in addition to these improvements to the park the city should consider constructing a small station house inside of the park for PEP and NYPD officers to be assigned to work out of so they can routinely patrol the park and respond quicker to incidents occurring in the park.

Anonymous said...

This video exemplifies her whole approach--slogans over substance. Everyone in the neighborhood SEES with their own eyes the terrible condition the park fell into--and how long it has taken for this to be addressed. Rivera wants to advance up the political ladder, but she never will so long as she does so little to actually DO the things to improve the lives of her constituents.

Anonymous said...

Rivera has proven herself to be a true politician. All talk, no action, just thinking about her own self. Politician is a unique job, where you don’t need any qualifications or experience. American history has shown us that absolutely anybody can be a politician. And most of them suck. And as the tax paying citizens, we are constantly, almost always stuck with voting for the lesser of two evils instead of having a qualified candidate who actually cares about us and the job they seek. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe a word she says. I'll believe something when I see it.

$20K is not enough to "bring on more dedicated staff members to improve maintenance and increase cleanup in the park". Laughable.

arts+projects said...

The past couple of Sundays at the entrance to the Park at Ave B and E 9th there have been a few people gathering signatures to have a real advocate for our community's needs on the ballot this June. The candidate has also been at the Park's entrance, speaking with locals answering questions etc. She's genuine and its worth the time it takes to take a few minutes on a Sunday morning to meet. Don't just complain about how bad CR is and how she betrayed her entire district - take an action step for change by going to the park at Ave B and E 9th this Sunday morning and if the candidate is there, introduce yourself and help sign someone else up to run to represent our district.

Anonymous said...

All talk no action politician. But aren't they all.

Mark said...

I was happy when CR campaigned for the very first time. I was also hopeful about the contributions she promised and related to her progressive platform and values. Now? Forget it. I am done, especially after her unwavering support pertaining to the closure of the East River Park. She is driven by power, wealth, and self interest, and nothing else, just like other countless politicians. Many on this thread have opined accurately about their indifference and anger on this subject. I am right behind them. Why was our park neglected for this long? And why do tax payers shoulder the burden of having to traverse through this park who are often faced with delinquents and criminals on what seems like a daily basis? I walked through it on Monday and couldn't help notice how barren and unsightly the main area was. There is hardly any grass. Just sand and droppings from vermin. I even came across two syringes on the ground. So utterly sad and pathetic. I wish there was more attention and TLC devoted to Tompkins. I am fairly certain our mayor doesn't care. He is too busy posturing on his Christianity as of late and of course attending film premieres and fashion shows. We live across and near this beloved park and want to enjoy it with our neighbors and friends. Parks should bring people and communes together. They shouldn't be left in such a poor state without recourse or resolve forcing residents to avoid it.

XTC said...

@8:57- "Never see any NYPD in the park"? Well, to begin with there aren't enough to go around as they're leaving in droves and why would they want to anyway. Secondly it's not their job to sort out the junkies, mentally ill, and homeless and there's no point in arresting low level dealers as they're back out on the street the next day. Factor in the defund the police nonsense and all the woke bullshit the goes along with it and I can see why the cops wouldn't all that motivated to get involved. You're on your own.....

Mark said...

Just to clarify, I meant to say communities, not communes, regarding my initial comment at 10:12. Apologies :)

Jose Garcia said...

We happily signed the petition for Allie Ryan.

Anonymous said...

Well said. This post is long on the injustices to this neighborhood. Enough said.

Anonymous said...

I’ve lived 45 yrs across the skateboarding field. It seems no one is aware of the noise those hollow ramps make when the skaters jump on them. It’s maddening hearing this incessant banging. I hope the ramps will NOT be making a comeback after the renovations.

Anonymous said...

NYPD is in the park every day, but they rarely get out of their cars. Same for PEP. I have seen them driving through the park almost daily, but they do not spend much time there and are extremely short-staffed.

There was a meeting last night at the NY Historical Society with a panel hosted by New Yorkers for Parks. Although they did not mention Tompkins specifically, they did discuss the need for 1% of the city budget to be allocated to the Parks Department. Across the city, we desperately need more park staff, gardeners, enforcement, and maintenance resources. It's ridiculous that we have to rely on volunteers and/or local residents to maintain this park. Obviously, this is not sustainable.

Anonymous said...

Them's big words coming from someone who stood idly by - if not actively supported the proceedings - when it came to the totally unnecessary wholesale destruction of the East River Park.

$20,000? It is to laugh.

I, too, signed the petition for Allie Ryan. I'd vote for a used litter box before I'd vote for Carlina again. And I've told her so to her face.

Anonymous said...

Complete omission of ALLIE RYAN and the FRIENDS OF TOMPKINS SQ PARK - whose frustration with the Park, & Carlina Rivera’s dismissal of any Constituents needs, led them to form a group, pick up needles, remove trash, plant bulbs— and in Allie’s case, start gathering Signatures to defeat Carlina in the June primary. LATE Reaction videos & travel shows are not what we need. CHANGE IN JUNE !!!

Unknown said...

@Anon 12:56PM: I hope for your sake, and the sanity of all of our neighbors on the Ave A end of the park, that the skateboard area isn't replaced by pickle ball courts.

Anonymous said...

I also signed the petition to get Allie Ryan a place on the ballot (primary in June, I think). Susan Stetzer and others in Community Board 3 are the ones to thank for getting the NYPD 9th Precinct to finally start clearing the park at closing time (midnight) as the 9th Precinct did pre-pandemic and since the 1990's when the park was renovated. To be fair, Carlina has helped start to turn things around a bit at TSP, but it sure took a long time for her to react to the pleas of many longtime residents, the timing seemed to be when she was up for re-election. I welcome anyone who takes action to clean up the hard drug use and dealing in the park instead of making speeches for photo ops. As a rocker that has lived across from the park since the 1980s, I don't expect it to be 100%. Just enforce the rules, drive out the people openly shooting up on park benches and leaving their syringes scattered everywhere, and get a lot more rat-proof trash cans and empty them more often. Oh, and plant some more trees to replace the ones that have died please. I will be talking to Allie Ryan to see if she is a better alternative to Carlina Rivera. Thank you everyone for your comments, emails to CB3 and City Council Rep (currently Ms. Rivera) and continued advocacy for Tompkins Square Park. It only takes a small number of people making "good trouble" to get things moving in our neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Unsurprisingly, Carlina does not have the grace or integrity to acknowledge the entity that initiated improvements and overall focus on the park —. That is the new Friends of Tompkins Sq. Park team. She was clearly embarrassed to see the impact and attention and impact the FTSP group was bringing, and decided to ride on their coattails and pretend like she’s ever cared.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has been v active with letting Harvey Epstein know about the litter / homeless weekly over the summer and calling 311 regulating , I notice it is decidedly cleaner .. a somewhat less junkie presence mainly bc it is cold. Curious to see how it is when the droves of people come back . Niy only homeless .. just people hanging out and throwing litter. We need NYPD PATROLLING on FOOT! Not sitting in car scrolling god knows what. I do see more NYPD in area but not in park. Definitely need way more garbage cans and more retrieval.

Bathrooms are another story! We really need a FEE for bathroom use .. even 50 cents to keep clean and keep junkies from shouting up there .. This is what many cities do, especially in Europe ! We need these all over city actually .

Anonymous said...

The video is now private. LOL.

Anonymous said...

The problem are those scufflaws who let their dogs roam on the big lawn area despite posted signs explicitly prohibiting this. Utter lack of enforcement despite abundance of cop patrols. Shows that funds are wasted on NYPD while the also abundant needs for health services and mental health outreach go unmet.

Chris Flash said...

More EMPTY words from Carlina ("I guess I'll have to SAY something so that you think that I'm DOING something") Rivera, who finds $150k for street barriers on Avenue B that force vehicles and bikers into oncoming traffic in order to circumvent them, while proudly declaring that she'll toss a few crumbs to Tompkins Square Park.

The FACT is that Rivera, like other politicians who pretend to "represent" the LES, do NOT give a damn about anything other than running for higher office and lining their pockets.

As for the "candidate" who portrays herself as the "alternative' to Rivera, unfortunately, after my initial support (contributions and signature gathering), I've discovered that her agenda does not differ all that much from others, like real estate shill Antonio Pagan and the political aspirants that followed his footsteps, who attempt to use Tompkins Square Park as THE BIG ISSUE, as their stepping stone to getting into office. Her public posts about forcing the homeless into shelters (has she ever SEEN or spent a night in one??), demanding the closing of sections of the park and an earlier park curfew because of needles she claims that SHE is finding and removing, as well as her attacks on young persons in the park engaged in what she calls "unlawful partying," is quite disturbing to me and her former supporters.

I am sick of "quality of life" creeps who use the homeless, those with substance abuse issues and young persons who hang out in our park in order to attempt to get into and to stay in office. Dividing our community against itself is SABOTAGE!

As for conditions in the park, some posting here must be talking about some OTHER park. I am there just about EVERY day, day and night. Park manager Amy busts her butt keeping the park as tight as possible on a limited budget with limited manpower and she does a hell of a job.
Persons less fortunate than the rest of us in the park are few and far between - those I see there do NOT make ME feel "unsafe," nor do those who smoke or drink. I am genuinely HAPPY to see young people (teens-20s) hanging out in the park because THAT is what we fought and SHED BLOOD for during Riot Days of the late 1980s-early 1990s, when we were in that age range. Now it's their turn to enjoy and love their park!

A SMART law enforcement official or political representative would spend REAL time hanging in the park to see for THEMSELVES what it's like, before being influenced by "quality of lifer" nazis who seem to want a sanitized POLICE STATE, which is UN-acceptable to the rest of us!

-Chris Flash

Anonymous said...

Chris, you have not been a force for good or constructive change in this neighborhood for decades. The fact is no one can live up to your antisocial, anarchists goals that appeal to less than .1% of neediest in our community. Getting basic repairs to the park as well as a council member who will agree to commit no less than 1% of their budget to public green space is not a “QOL Nazi.” Just a sensible candidate who lives in the real world. With all do respect, you should try that sometime

Anonymous said...

Right?! I heard reps from the friends of Tompkins square park group, including Allie Ryan, attending the many community board 3 parks committee meetings and asking for all of these things.
Carlina Rivera has access to $ funding. Why has so much been spent on Ave B maintenance when it is hardly used (read not safe to be used by pedestrians) whereas the park needs so much cleaning and extra help?

Anonymous said...

I think they finally locked it. And somewhere I heard that they were finally going to re-seed the lawn. Btw they used to do this regularly and they stopped years ago.

Anonymous said...

Money is money, and TSP deserves it, so I’m going to say thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you @6:18. Agreed. I’m going to keep contacting our representatives. Squeaky wheel.

Anonymous said...

With the restrooms out of service, there actually haven’t been that many homeless and junkies in the park recently. The dog owners are definitely running amok though.

Chris Flash said...

AnonymASS (March 17,2023 at 10:10AM):

Your post made me laugh - thank you. Actually, I am quite a SOCIAL Anarchist!

Calling for removal of those whom YOU do not like or whom YOU do not want to see IS "nazi-like" behavior, hence the moniker "Quality-Of-Life Nazi" (If the show fits....)

Why don't YOU set an example for the rest of us poor slobs by doing something POSITIVE, like FEEDING people or organizing a clothing drive for those less than fortunate than yourself?

Aside from sniping, please tell us what YOU have done toward helping our community. I'll be waiting.....

You know, people like you and other QOLers ought to think very seriously about the very likely possibility that YOU TOO may someday find YOURSELVES out of a job, or your stock portfolio crashed, or you may e evicted because a vulture acquired your building and got everyone out and you cannot afford to pay current market rate rents that QOLers have helped to bring about.

In such case, should we treat YOU and your QOLers, who will then want NOTHING to do with YOU either, like you have the plague?

NO. More than likely, we will try to help YOU too.

Imagine the irony......

Anonymous said...

@3:55 Friends of Tompkins Square Park was formed a few months ago, wasn't it? The planning, funding, and scheduling of ongoing and future efforts described by CM Rivera have been in the works for some time (years, in some cases, undercut by delays and budget issues due to Covid).

Anonymous said...

I really wish that the dog owners would not empty their dogs in the tree beds and flower beds and on all of the grassy areas wheee people like to sit.

Glamma said...

LEAVE THE PARK ALONE!! ITS THE LAST COOL AUTHENTIC PLACE IN THE EAST VILLAGE. DO NOT GENTRIFY TSP!!!

Glamma said...

PS - CHRIS FLASH IS THE MAN. HE IS A ROLE MODEL. HE HELPS THE COMMUNITY. HE MAKES IT HIS LFE'S WORK. WHAT DO YOU DO FOR IT?? OTHER THAN ATTEMPT TO PATHETICALLY CRIMINALIZE POVERTY. GTFOH.