Sunset Park’s crumbling stone wall makes neighbors fear for their safety


When Sunset Park resident Michael Fleshman looked out his window one Sunday, he noticed a young girl trying to climb a piece of the wall surrounding the green space in the eponymous neighborhood.

The retaining wall – which borders the nearly 25-acre park – is dangerously neglected, Fleshman told the Brooklyn eagle, and any other day, could have crushed the child.

The longtime local – who lives across the street with a view of the park – took the Eagle during a brief walking tour on September 13 that showed cracks in the foundation, patchwork to be redone, and significant areas where stones are missing.

“From my dining room window I can see this part of the park, so at one point this summer I looked outside and said, ‘Hey, he’s missing a big piece of that wall, “” Fleshman said, referring to a particularly worn part of the wall on the 41st Street side of the park. Danger struck him when he saw the girl, aged about 4, trying to climb inside.

“A little kid pulling on it, maybe after the next heavy rain – boom – it’s going to hit that kid,” he told the Eagle. “So I started making phone calls. “

The part of the wall the little girl tried to climb. Eagle photo by Meaghan McGoldrick

Fleshman is hoping the city will repair the retaining wall in one fell swoop (a full canvas and reassignment is long overdue, he said), or at the very least erect a barricade.

The problem is not new, another local resident, Maria Roca, told the Eagle.

“We’ve been dealing with this for decades,” said Roca, who founded Friends of Sunset Park in 1995. “We’ve documented and reported these conditions to Parks forever. “

The problem is the piecemeal quilting, Roca said.

“The wall never had any maintenance – only ad hoc repairs,” she said. “And these repairs are done with whatever materials they have – not something that will last.”

Old patchwork that is now loose, or where stones are missing now. Eagle photo by Meaghan McGoldrick

A spokesperson for the New York City Parks Department said the agency was not aware of any recent issues in the retaining wall.

“Our engineers have confirmed that the wall is fundamentally stable,” press secretary Anessa Hodgson said. Eagle. “Every now and then, park staff have removed stones from the wall as a safety measure. We are not aware of any recent cases of falling or removing stones, but we will inspect and establish a stone replacement plan.

Hodgson further noted that the agency currently has no plans for a complete retaining wall replacement – and that the missing stones are, at times, the result of vandals.

According to the agency’s Capital Project Tracker, Parks recently completed an almost $ 1.5 million reconstruction of Sunset Park’s trails, benches, and fences, but that doesn’t appear to have included the retaining wall.

Still, Fleshman – who even went looking for his own barricades – is hoping something can be done to make the area more secure.

A less neglected part of the wall at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 41st Street. Eagle photo by Meaghan McGoldrick

“I am worried about this,” he said. “Someone is going to get hurt.”

Roca agreed.

“If one of these stones falls at the wrong time, it can crush an adult’s foot – no matter what it can do to a child,” she said. “It’s a public safety issue.

The wall is also crucial for the park’s infrastructure, Roca said. “We wouldn’t have this park if we didn’t have this retaining wall,” she said.

City councilor Carlos Menchaca, who represents the region, told the Eagle he would work to fix the problem.

“I shudder imagining a parent pushing a stroller or an elderly neighbor tripping over these fallen tiles,” he said. “This is unacceptable and my office will investigate the cause and work with the city to find a solution.”

The re-examination of the matter comes just weeks after 5-year-old Alysson Pinto-Chaumana was crushed to death by a heavy stone fence that was being set up around a house in Bushwick.

Following an investigation by the Eagle Regarding the lack of permit requirements, regional council member Rafael Espinal submitted a legislative request to start work on a bill requiring city approval before heavy fencing and construction were built. ‘other potentially dangerous infrastructure.

Correction (September 23, 10:17 a.m.): A previous version of this article misspelled Maria Roca’s name. The Eagle regret the error.

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