The Reading Garden project recently moved up from the Design Phase to the Procurement stage. At the February Community Board 13Q Parks Committee zoom meeting, Queens Parks Commissioner Dockett, when asked about the status, thought the project might be on “pause”. Here is his March 4th response to our written follow-up for more details:
The Bellerose Reading Garden project completed the “Design Phase” in January, so it is now at the very beginning of the “Procurement Phase”. The initial stages of procurement are both Internal Parks Legal Review and then City Comptroller’s Office Legal Review. Standard City procurement process typically takes an average of 9-12 months.
Most of our Capital Projects were paused due to COVID, but we recently received approval to move forward with these projects. Given the large number of projects unpaused (~380), we’re carefully strategizing about how best to proceed without overwhelming oversight agencies, flooding the construction market, and affecting our current active portfolio. We’re working as expeditiously as possible to move all of Parks’ projects through the process, but given the volume, they can’t all move at once. We will be in touch once we have more specific information to share.
Queens Borough Commissioner
The Parks Project Tracker, www.nycgovparks.org/planning-and-building/capital-project-tracker/project/9446, now lists the projected completion date for the Procurement Phase as October 2021, which seems optimistic if we are still on “Pause”. The average time for construction adds another 12-18 months to a project. So please save the date for the grand opening ribbon-cutting sometime in 2023. But, since this is one of the smallest active parks capital projects in Queens, we might get lucky and be able to celebrate a little earlier.
The Parks Project Tracker, updated in late February, does not include the latest schematic drawing of the final design of the Reading Garden. Last year, at the community’s suggestion, the proposed new tree in the middle of the garden towards the south end was eliminated. It was felt that at that location it could possibly interfere with the best use of the Garden by teachers and groups of their students. Additional changes appear to be the elimination of two 4’ benches and the addition of two game tables. Neither drawing shows the water access (for watering the shrubs) that the architect had said was included in the project. Thanks to Akshar Patel, Sen. Liu’s Deputy Chief of Staff, for getting us the final design which can be seen below.