Today’s news:

Fort Totten Tram may not need new tank

A new tram at Fort Totten that will be introduced later this spring will have greater fuel capacity, which could likely head off the construction of a natural gas station at the Bayside park’s site, City Councilman Tony Avella (D−Bayside) said.

A spokeswoman for the city Parks Department said the city has not yet made any decisions about creating a fueling station at the park. But the tram will feature a larger tank than originally proposed, which could potentially make a natural gas station at the site unnecessary, she said.

“If we don’t need one, we won’t build one,” she said. “And if we did, it would not necessarily be in Fort Totten.”

Avella had written a letter to Parks, arguing that the construction of a fueling station at Fort Totten caused safety concerns.

“It was an issue of safety and aesthetics,” he said. “You don’t want that type of tank in a park where people are walking around.”

The city operates natural gas fueling stations in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and Central Park.

The Parks spokeswoman said the tram, which will be an open−air compressed natural gas vehicle with a motor in the front, would probably begin operating after Memorial Day.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D−Whitestone) said she was pleased that the Parks Department would not likely build a tank at Fort Totten.

“This is something that people have justly been concerned about,” she said.

The tram, which will be wheelchair−accessible and can accommodate up to 48 people, will begin at Fort Totten’s parking lot and drop passengers off at its new visitor’s center, its pool and the fort.

Borough President Helen Marshall secured $300,000 for the creation of the tram. The city is currently in the midst of a project to upgrade the fort by demolishing 18 townhouses built in the 1950s at the site and replacing them with parkland as well as constructing a new playground next to the park’s baseball field.

Fort Totten is bounded by the Long Island Sound and the Cross Island Parkway. The site contains 136 acres of land, which was parceled out by the U.S. Army in 1995 to various city agencies, including Parks, the FDNY, the Coast Guard and a veteran’s organization.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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