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Parks plans to replace Porta Potties at Little Bay Park

Canoes embark on their journey from Little Neck Bay in northeast Queens, where portable toilets remain the only options for relief.
TimesLedger Newspapers

Residents of northeast Queens took some comfort in hearing that one long-awaited project at Little Bay Park would be moving forward soon.

In an e-mail to his community last week, Bay Terrace Community Alliance President Warren Schreiber said he was cautiously optimistic to report the city Parks Departments’ intention of breaking ground on a new comfort station at Little Bay Park in March.

“I am hopeful, but also skeptical,” Schreiber said. “I just don’t want to see the community disappointed again if they come up with another reason why the project cannot move forward.”

According to a Parks spokesman, the project should be finished by fall 2014 and will include a new comfort station, trees, plantings, and an expanded 100-car parking lot equipped with the ability to clean and absorb storm water runoff, reducing the burden on the area’s drains. The bidding process for the project is nearly finished and the project’s contracts are awarded, or soon to be awarded, the spokesman said.

Schreiber has kept a close watch on the project over the last several years with hopes that Parks would eradicate an eyesore currently set up near Little Bay: portable toilets.

Over recent years, a small row of portable toilets have remained the only option for anyone at the park. And according to Schreiber, the conditions of those toilets has not historically been attractive.

“A while back, they were in pretty deplorable conditions. Some people had brought it to my attention that they had not been cleaned in some time,” Schreiber said. “Much to the credit of Parks, they looked at the issue and took steps to correct the situation. But still, I don’t particularly like what we have there now.”

Schreiber said it was important that a comfort station be built to accommodate the rising number of people visiting the area over recent years.

Over the summer, the Parks Department opened the bidding process for the construction of a comfort station at the park and said a timeline would be available after all bids were received and evaluated. When the bidding was opened, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) joined with northeast Queens community leaders in celebrating the project’s progress.

“After years of bureaucratic delays, I am pleased that this project is finally moving forward,” Avella said. “It is a real shame that a great park like Little Bay Park, which has what I consider the best dog run in the entire city, does not have a comfort station.”

The senator said he had already helped provide more than $1 million as a member of the City Council for the project nearly four years ago, but plans never came to fruition, thanks to what he called a “never-ending bureaucratic delay.”

Several years ago, Avella had allocated money for the construction of public restrooms nearly a year after former U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman announced in 2004 he had secured $4.12 million in federal transportation money to expand parking capacity at Little Bay Park and reduce traffic congestion leading into Fort Totten with a rebuilt Cross Island Parkway bridge overpass at 212th Street.

And all these years later, ground has yet to be broken and Schreiber said he still remained wary.

“After being stonewalled for so many years, I am somewhat apprehensive,” he said.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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