See January 2018 update at bottom.
The Parks Department has proposed a large comfort station (bathroom) for Red Hook's small jewel of a waterfront park, the Louis J. Valentino Park & Pier.
PDF of the Comfort Station plan
We will update this blogpost as we get new information (and time allows). You can also get updates on our Facebook page for Mary A. Whalen
See our prior post about the Fall 2014 repair work Parks planned which caused the first round of consternation.
Below we copy a post we made to Facebook on Tuesday 9/23/14. There were great comments and photos submitted in response and we'll try to get those over here when we can. Not everyone is on Facebook, and a blog post makes a one-stop link that can be shared widely, but the flurry of discussion on this topic, is quite a bit of work to follow!
People for Red Hook Public Parks MEETING Wed 9/24 7:30-8:30p, 351 Van Brunt St. There are rising concerns over New York City Department of Parks & Recreation plan for a comfort station in #ValentinoPark. Concerns focus on large size of the comfort station which wipes out a whole side of park that is heavily used, and the high cost (4 stalls = $2.4 million according to The Red Hook Star-Revue). The size seems to result, at least in part, from FEMA requirements that the building be raised, leading to the creation of a hillock, and then the required ADA ramp to reach that height also becomes huge. The landscaping plan prevents uses that currently occur in that section of the park.
RECOMMENDATION Let's all approach this by asking questions and negotiating. Red Hook has the tendency to launch into angry accusations in public meetings - at the outset. That is not the best way to tease out alternatives (be they of design or of process). Anger blocks creative thinking (affecting community members trying to improve things), and the people in power are people too and it can be hard for them to be receptive to working with a community that is screaming at them. Anger should be the last resort.
ALTERNATIVES? Could something smaller in size and cost be built-to-flood or "wet-proofed" as Andrea Sansom has proposed? Would incinolets solve the space/cost problem? If it is solar and wind powered by the designs that Baldev Duggal has created for the Brooklyn Navy Yard does it become more resilient or cost less? Someone said if the money is not used it is lost, well then, could money from resulting savings be used for other improvements to the park such as the BoatBox that PortSide designed as a better boathouse and outdoor living room for park users?
The scale of the proposed comfort station does remind us of that Vietnam era slogan "we had to destroy the village in order to save it" by which me mean that an improvement to the park is wiping out a lot of the park.
Carlos Menchaca got involved to clear up some misunderstandings about the Parks repair project which prompted the fences to go up, and we expect that he has already rolled his sleeves up to tackle the Comfort Station Matter.
January 2018 update
DOT has approved a sidewalk toilet. Red Hook, we have been heard! Remember all those meetings about a big, expensive "comfort station" proposed for our charming waterfront park Valentino Park? That concept was defeated, and a small, sidewalk toilet is coming via the DOT. Thanks to everyone for participating in public meetings, on-line discussions with us, and other modes. Community action worked! A special shout out to Anne Griepenburg who researched the Portland Loo which presented an alternative that appealed to many and may have swung government decision around to that kind of solution.
Toilet Party any one? It has the great acronym of TP.
We hear that there is a spring installation expected, but we are still waiting on confirmation.