2013-06-07 / Community

Riis Then And Now – An Ongoing Disgrace

By Kevin Boyle


Photo taken 2010 Photo taken 2010 In November 2010, almost THREE YEARS ago I sent a letter with pictures to Gateway Superintendent Linda Canzanelli and Ken Salazar, Secretary of Interior at the time, describing the sorry state of Riis Park and Fort Tilden. I’m still waiting for a response. Salazar has moved on. Maybe new Secretary, Sally Jewell, will answer his mail. Canzanelli is still with NPS and got a least one promotion since I sent my letter to her.

Earlier, in September of 2010, I also sent an email to NPS personnel Jane Ahearn and Dave Taft. Here’s the correspondence:

Hello — I intend to write a column for The Wave about Riis Park and Fort Tilden. I hope you’ll provide answers to the following. The railings in Riis Park have been splintered and in severe disrepair for years. When will they be fixed? The former basketball courts and handball courts (full of graffiti) outside the golf course are overgrown with weeds. The park benches are nothing more than concrete stanchions. When will this area be cleaned and repaired?


Photo taken 2013 Photo taken 2013 Shore Road in Fort Tilden has many dangerous cracks. When will they be patched and repaired? The Harris Battery is covered in graffiti. When will it be cleaned? What are the plans for the former visitor center in Fort Tilden? The path along the bay wall (approx from the bridge to Beach 149th street) has major structural damage and extensive amounts of litter. When will this be repaired and cleaned? Thank you.

Here’s the reply: We appreciate the opportunity to respond to the questions you have about Gateway National Recreation Area. I’ve have outlined the answers to some of your questions from your September 30, 2010 email:

Jacob Riis Park’s Historic Ship’s Rail:

Gateway National Recreation Area, a unit of the National Park Service, has awarded a $600,000 design/build contract to the Cutting Edge Group, LLC, of Lake George, NY to complete improvements to the historic landscape at Jacob Riis Park, Queens, New York. The project includes the restoration of approximately 2,500 linear feet of the historic Ship’s Rail located along the boardwalk areas along the beach as well as repaving the existing original walkways within the Back Beach Mall area, behind Bay 9.


Photo taken 2010 Photo taken 2010 To date, the repaving of the Back Beach Mall has been completed. The contractor has now turned his focus to the ship’s rail itself and started in September 2010 with on-site concrete restoration and will continue with the installation of the new ship’s rail to occur later this fall/winter.

***Please See Pictures of the ship’s rail taken just a couple of weeks ago on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013. Almost THREE years since the contractor “turned his focus” on the rail. Did they just not finish the job or were they supposed to leave long stretches of decrepit rail?


Photo taken 2013 Photo taken 2013 As for Jacob Riis Park’s Play courts (basketball, handball, etc.):

Gateway is currently working through a design process with the assistance of architectural and engineering firm to rehabilitate these areas and their accessories (benches, tables, etc.). The actual construction is currently scheduled for some time in 2011.

***Sometime in 2011? Well, as you can see, the pictures tell a different story. Pictures taken in 2010 and just this week are hardly distinguishable. Graffiti, concrete stanchions, it’s the same mess.

Shore Road / Fort Tilden

Gateway has a budget request in to repair Shore Road, however funding has not yet been approved yet as we are still early in the budget process.

***Well, maybe because it was so compromised it fell apart during the storm. Now it’s got to be replaced instead of repaired. Don’t hold your breath.

Battery Harris

Gateway is considering options both in funding opportunities and methods to stabilize these batteries. Additionally, the planning of the batteries incorporation into the overall site use plan is currently underway as part of the Gateway’s General Management Plan.

***Gateway must’ve had to consider a lot of options because nothing has happened except three additional years of graffiti and decay.

I am checking on your question about the visitor center and the pathway (the bay wall area). However, I have contacted Unit Coordinator Dave Taft for his expertise on both of those questions.

From Dave Taft: I will need to give you a call tomorrow to answer your questions regarding Riis ...I’m sorry for the delay, but I hope it won’t be too late for your (article). Dave’s second email: Will try to call you tomorrow. Sorry other priorities interfered, but glad that my colleagues got you some of the answers you needed. Dave

Won’t swear by it, but I never did hear back from Dave.

That was 2010. It is now 2013. It’s a National Disgrace – and they can’t blame it on Sandy. To be continued... Unfortunately.

Return to top


Email Us
Contact Us

Copyright 1999 - 2014 Wave Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved

Neighborhoods | History