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Well, this is not exactly a surprise but, as the New York Times reports today, Prospect Park’s Lakeside project—which will include new skating rinks, buildings and a major amount of landscaping—is behind schedule. The big news is that the skating rinks and the rest of project aren’t expected to open until fall of 2013, as opposed to this January. Here’s the long and short of it: “Lakeside, a $74 million, 26-acre undertaking, is the first major construction project in 50 years in Prospect Park. It is intended to reinvigorate a long-neglected portion of the park and accommodate the 10 million visitors now streaming to the 585-acre Brooklyn oasis each year. Now, more than five years after plans were announced and two winters after the decrepit Kate Wollman Rink was torn down, the project is half-built and half-imagined.” The article also compares the respective budgets of Central Park and Prospect Park, both of which receive some city funding: Central operates with a $42.4 million budget, while Prospect gets by with $8.3 million, and Lakeside’s financing doesn’t come from the regular budget. This is the other very relevant quote in the story: “The project is emblematic of a park in transition — from a crime-ridden, dilapidated den of 25 years ago to a vibrant, rustic haven struggling to keep pace with maintenance and use demands despite a thinning budget.” Aside from all that, and the fact that it’s a drag that the delays are keeping the rinks from opening, there are a bunch of details in the story about some of Lakeside elements that are supposed to sound pretty darn cool, like “20,000 square feet of bluestone for the walkway beneath a majestic semicircle of London plane trees” and “six new cast bronze urns, based on the original Olmsted and Vaux design.”
At Prospect Park, a Transformation Is Behind Schedule [NY Times]
Recent photos of Lakeside construction from the Prospect Park Alliance

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The Times reports that tonight the Prospect Park Road Sharing Task Force will unveil a proposal to change the park’s loop so that one lane is for cars, one for bicyclists and one is for pedestrians. The plan would make the center lane, which is now used by cars, only for bicyclists, while the left lane would be only for pedestrians and the right lane would be for cars during the hours that the park is open to them. The city says it plans to put the changes into effect this spring, and the task force conducted a study indicating that the change would only add a six- or seven-second delay to the trip for car drivers during the morning rush. Still, Emily Lloyd, who is the president of the Prospect Park Alliance and heads up the task force, said she expects “a harsh reaction” to the proposal from drivers. As the Times notes, the plan comes “in response to a series of collisions between pedestrians and cyclists, and amid growing rancor over how to balance the interests of the 10 million people who crowd into Prospect Park each year.”
Changes Planned for Prospect Park Loop [NY Times]
Photo by joefenstermaker

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Tomorrow night Prospect Park’s Road Sharing Taskforce will have a meeting to discuss its recommendations for making the park’s drives safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. The taskforce includes reps from city agencies, such as the DOT and the Parks Dept., in addition to a number of people who belong to neighborhood groups like the Prospect Park Community Committee and cycling and running groups. Today the Brooklyn Paper reported that the DOT has removed traffic cones it installed on West Park Drive as a measure to try and prevent bike-ped accidents and the “street will remain cone-free until the city gets more feedback on how to fix the treacherous slope.” The meeting is taking place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the park’s Picnic House.
Photo by FrnkSmth

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Cops are going to start enforcing traffic regulations for cyclists in Prospect Park, according to Patch: “Summonses will be issued to any biker who is driving the wrong way, speeding, riding outside of the bike lane and or driving in a way that is dangerous to others.” The increased enforcement will start after this weekend, when the NYPD will hand out fliers detailing the rules of the road to cyclists. The move follows recent bike-pedestrian accidents in the park.
Racing Bikers Beware! [Patch]
Pic by Karen Foto

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Today The Times has a story about how the city is trying to make the Prospect Park loop safer following a few recent accidents in which bicyclists have hit pedestrians. Temporary orange traffic barrels have been installed on a stretch of the road in an attempt to make bikers slow down, though it’s unclear whether they’re working: “On Saturday afternoon, some cyclists navigated through them with ease, rarely braking as they rode down the hill and through the intersection. Others appeared confused, weaving into the pedestrian lane rather than continuing through the narrow funnel created by the barrels. One unsteady in-line skater crashed in front of the center row.” Other measures being considered include “stronger law enforcement, new traffic patterns, better signage and an educational campaign.”
Prospect Park Takes Steps to Slow Cyclists [NY Times]
Photo by h-bomb

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The Post reports that a woman hit by a bicyclist in Prospect Park last summer is suing the city for $3 million. The suit alleges that the Parks Dept. and the NYPD are “negligent, careless and reckless” when it comes to enforcing traffic regulations in the park. The woman, Dana Jacks, was hospitalized for 25 days following the accident. Over the summer, Jacks also filed a lawsuit against the bicyclist, who countersued, saying Jacks was “unlawfully outside the crosswalk.” The lawsuit comes as the city examines traffic calming in the park. Yesterday the Daily News reported on a community meeting about the issue in which some said that cars should be banned from the park and others said cyclists are “out of control” and don’t obey traffic lights. Two weeks ago another pedestrian was hit by a cyclist in the park and is still in intensive care.
Woman Hit by Cyclist Sues City for $3M [NY Post]
Bicyclists and Pedestrians Spar at Prospect Park Community Meeting [NY Daily News]
Photo by Ahmed ElHusseiny

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The Prospect Park Alliance recently uploaded a few behind-the-fence shots of how construction is going at Lakeside. Among other things, the big project will result in a couple new skating rinks and involve the relandscaping of 26 acres. The cover for one of the rinks has almost been completely installed, and a lot of work has been done on the new lakeshore wall. Yesterday a press release went out saying that Chase is putting $1.6 million toward the facility being built adjacent to the skating rinks that will include a “Chase Cafe.” The entire project is costing $74 million and is 85 percent funded at this point; it’s supposed to be finished by December 2012 or January 2013.
Lakeside Construction Update [Prospect Park Alliance]

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A blog called Prospect Park Litter Mob is documenting the efforts of a group that meets every couple weeks to clean up trash in the park’s eastern Midwood section, “the last forest in Brooklyn, where some of the trees predate the creation of the park.” Among other things, the blog makes it clear that one man’s condom is another’s trash.
Prospect Park Litter Mob
Photos from Prospect Park Litter Mob.

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In this weekend’s Streetscapes column in the Times, Christopher Gray writes about Prospect Park’s five arches, which he believes “show the sensitive, humanistic possibilities of the city — which its citizens have betrayed.” How’s that? In most cases, because the insides of the structures now sport graffiti. Gray’s choicest words are about Meadowport Arch: “This marvelous, inspiring work, a 100-foot-long Grand Central Terminal waiting room of polished cedar, with rounded benches and a cross-vaulted pavilion, was lovingly recreated in 1988, barely a generation ago. Now, after all that intention, money and effort, Meadowport Arch is a madeleine for New York of the 1960s and 1970s. The graffiti vandals have sprayed their way through the interior, and the city has seen little choice but to paint over four long runs of the casing. Only the topmost ones, out of reach, are intact, almost perfectly so — reminders of the humane sensitivity of the original design. The paint job is slapdash, with drips on the benches, but that only reflects the native tragedy — that we had this beautiful, democratic thing, freely given to all, and yet destroyed it.”
The Fate of Prospect Park’s Five Arches [NY Times]
Photo by wallyg.