These are not just any comfort stations, though. A draft of the futuristic, light-filled building won a design award from the Public Design Commission this past summer.
The Commission’s website describes the airy design this way:
An open, light-filled building to house park offices as well as community facilities, the structure comprises two steeply pitched solid masonry building volumes dressed with climbing vines and connected by a breezeway pavilion. The building design minimizes the barrier between interior and exterior spaces, while an adjacent native planting bed further integrates the building into the surrounding landscape.
The project is still in the design phase, which is expected to be completed by the end of April. Then procurement and construction will take approximately two more years, according to the Parks Department’s capital tracker.
In addition, the park — which is a haven for many exotic animal species — recently acquired two completed synthetic turf fields, landscaping and lighting, an entry garden, and waterfront restoration, a spokesperson for the agency told us.
These additions are a small step towards making one of our area’s largest green spaces clean and safe for the public.
As we’ve previously reported, the dilapidated and overgrown park — formerly known as Dreier-Offerman Park — was promised a full renovation by the Bloomberg administration in 2007, a plan that would transform the 77-acre space into a regional park.
The original $40 million plan included three baseball fields, six soccer fields, kayak launches, picnic areas, a central lawn, a bicycle path, nature trails, an amphitheater, a playground, a recreation center, and a pavilion.
A major setback for the project was the enormous amount of pollution found at the park, which was extended in the 1960s by dumped construction fill during the building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, noted the New York Post in 2011. Two soccer fields that were supposed to cost $10.8 million wound up costing the city $14.5 million due to contaminated soil, drainage problems and other issues, officials told the paper.
Councilman Mark Treyger has criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration for abandoning his predecessor’s ambitious plan for the space.
“It has the potential to be a real gem and the vision should really be actualized. All that was accomplished is two soccer fields and a parking lot, and the rest is just park land that is in great need of care and in need of environmental remediation,” said Treyger, who is on the Council’s Parks Committee.
Today, large swaths of the park remain unfinished, and it has become breeding ground for crime, homeless encampments, and the occasional dead body.
Caver Vaux is not the only local green space that can use improvement. Earlier this year, Treyger and Councilman Vincent Gentile took the mayor’s office to task for failure to include a deteriorating Bensonhurst Park or the rest of southern Brooklyn in the mayor’s Community Parks Initiative (CPI). The $35 million was initially set aside for Parks-related improvements in densely populated, growing, and lower-income communities.
Following our reporting on the sad state of Bensonhurst Park and Calvert Vaux, the mayor’s administration announced the inclusion of funding for two local playgrounds — Gravesend’s Lafayette Playground, and Lt. Joseph Petrosino Park — in the initiative.