Dear Editor:

POOR DRAINAGE: On the northwest corner of West 11th and Bleecker Streets, water does not drain properly, as seen above. Photo by Abel Montez.

Re: “Does Rudin Want Your Fruit Vendor to Move? (November 2018):
The article states that the fruit cart vendor on the corner of 12th Street and 7th Avenue has been “issued a summons by Health and Mental Hygiene for operating a fruit cart on property under the Department of Parks and Recreation jurisdiction without a valid NYC Parks Department permit.”  What I find appalling is how the Department of Parks and Recreation is now claiming jurisdiction over this area. I have had my dealings with all the parties involved, where none of the entities want to claim jurisdiction or responsibility over a park bench on the sidewalk across from the fruit vendor’s stand on 7th Avenue.
For several months in 2016, I noticed that a wooden slat was missing a bolt. I would pass this bench everyday as I walked toward the subway. I became concerned that the bench would eventually be damaged. I contacted the Department of Parks and Recreation using the 311 service several times in 2016 and 2017. I finally got a 311 email response that stated: “Upon inspection the reported condition was not found, and, therefore, no action was taken. If the area you are referring to is the AIDS Memorial Park, NYC Parks does not maintain that park.”
I do not recall if I ever was able to contact the AIDS Memorial Park, but I do recall talking to someone at the Parks Department who referred me to the Rudin company. That individual believed that because the bench was outside the fence of the park, that the Rudin company was responsible for repairs.  I spoke to someone at the Rudin company who referred me to the super at the Rudin property across the street.  I called him and told him that I was worried that someone would damage the bench. When I spoke to the super he informed me that someone on his staff would fix the bench. For several months nothing was done. I even tried to locate a bolt at a local hardware store, but could not find one big enough!  Then a few weeks later, I noticed that the wooden slat was completely removed. It has been in this damaged condition for more than a year.

IN DAMAGED CONDITION FOR MORE THAN A YEAR: The top wooden slat of this bench on 7th Avenue and Greenwich Avenue is completely removed. Photo by Abel Montez.

The NYC Parks Department cannot have it both ways. The Department cannot claim to have no jurisdiction over the damaged park bench at the same time they are claiming jurisdiction over that area where the fruit vendor is located. They should leave the fruit vendor alone. All they needed to have done to prevent the damage to the park bench was to have installed a bolt years ago.
Speaking of damage, for years I have been trying to get an issue addressed near Bleecker Street playground, on the northwest corner of West 11th Street and Bleecker Street (at the entrance of the sitting area of the park, close to the Mayor Koch “The Family” sculpture).  On the street, the water does not drain properly after rain or snow and stays there for weeks. In the summer months, the stagnant water starts to turn green and is filthy. During the summer months, this stagnant water becomes a haven for mosquitos. Because there is a wheelchair “cut out” on that intersection, it makes it difficult for individuals in wheelchairs or strollers to navigate their way from the street onto the sidewalk. The other three corners do not have the same drainage problem.
I filed numerous 311 complaints in 2014, but nothing happened.  In 2015, I reached out to the Department of Sanitation and the Department of Health after the Zika Virus outbreak to complain about the stagnant water. No one contacted me. In 2016, I contacted then-City Council member Corey Johnson.  I spoke to a staffer at length about the problem and even sent her photos of the area. Nothing happened. It is now 2018 and the stagnant water remains year-round, unless it becomes frozen during the winter months. I am surprised that the merchants in the area have not complained. What does it take to have a bench repaired and a drainage issue addressed?
Sincerely, Abel Montez

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