Parks Department to Evict Families from Historic Beach Community on Staten Island

 

Beach Bungalows At Cedar Grove

For information, contact Bill Dugan, p: (347) 825 – 2892, WDugan@HSMSE.org. 

August 4, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Parks Department to Evict Families from Historic Beach Community on Staten Island

Elected Officials Protest, “Fail To See The Logic” of Removing Paying Tenants During Economic Downturn

Following a determination by the New York State Historic Preservation Office that the Cedar Grove Beach Club was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district, Staten Island elected officials have called on NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe to abandon plans to demolish the 99-year old community in New Dorp.  In a letter citing the historic importance of the site, Congressman Michael McMahon, State Senator Anthony Lanza (NY-24), and Councilmen James Oddo (50th District) and Vincent Ignizio (51st District) objected to the Parks Department’s lack of firm plans and the absence of funding for any project at the property , stating that they “fail to see the logic” of evicting the site’s long term residents, especially “given the current economic climate faced by the city” and “the significant financial burden” of taking new construction on the site.

Last of Staten Island’s Beach Colonies

Cedar Grove Beach Club is a collection of 41 historic beach bungalows largely built between 1920 and 1940 in New Dorp, Staten Island. The community was established around 1907 as one of many beach campgrounds during the heyday of Staten Island’s shore.  Today the Beach Club, located south of the corner of Ebbitts Avenue and Cedar Grove Avenue, is a close-knit community of families who have been on the beach for generations.  In the 1960s, New York City  took land and cottages by eminent domain as part of a plan to build an expressway through the site.  While the road was never built, the scheme that resulted in the destruction of almost all of Staten Island’s historic seaside resort communities.  Cedar Grove alone escaped demolition because the bungalow owners and the Beach Club have rented the property back from the City for nearly 50 years while being responsible for all maintenance of the public beach, playgrounds and property. As one resident remarked, “the Beach Club now pays more in rent in a year than the City paid for the bungalows.”

Cedar Grove Beach Clubhouse

Evicted for Plans Without Funding & Purpose

In December 2009, NYC Parks announced they would not renew the Club’s lease, and ordered the bungalow community’s residents to vacate by December 31, 2009.  Following public outcry, and with the support of local community groups and elected officials, Parks agreed to extend the lease until September 30, 2010.  Parks has recently announced its intentions to demolish most of area’s buildings immediately after the lease expires, although, as Congressman McMahon’s letter of July 22, 2010 points out, the City has no projected start date or funding for its plans to furnish the beach with lifeguard and concession stands or to facilitate greater public access to the beach area. The sand beach area of Cedar Grove is currently open to the general public and accessible from New Dorp Beach Park to the north and Great Kills Park to the south. 

Area residents fear that the city will evict the current occupants of the bungalow colony and defer any future plans for the property indefinitely, leaving the site unmaintained and littered with construction debris, the same situation that exists at the adjacent New Dorp Beach Park.  This fear is supported by fact that the city has not initiated the process to obtain appropriate permits to demolish historic structures, to begin new construction on a site designated by the State as a potential sensitive wetlands area, or any of the other clearances typically necessary for a proposed capital project. 

 Eminent Domain Strikes Twice

The benefit of saving this historic Staten Island community and historic district far outweighs the speculative benefit of an unfunded project for yet another unmaintained and underutilized city park.  The residents of Cedar Grove Beach Club, many of whom had their property taken from them by the city 50 years ago for one scheme that was never built, should not lose their family’s bungalows for another city project that will likely never be built.  Recently, Manhattan Council Member  Melissa Mark-Viverito (chair of the Parks Committee of City Council) has joined her Staten Island colleagues  Vincent Ignizio, James Oddo and Deborah Rose, Congressman McMahon, NYS Senator Lanza, Assmebly member Janele Hyer-Spencer, the New Dorp Central Civic Association and the Historic Districts Council in calling for Parks to abandon their plans to destroy this important historic district and evict 41 families from the Beach Club.

  

For the text of Sen McMahon’s letter, more information on Staten Island’s seaside history, the history and significance of Cedar Grove Beach Club,the condition of local beaches, and links to other related topics, see the Facebook group page “Save Cedar Grove Beach Club”  (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=197609326111). 

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Comments

6 Responses to “Parks Department to Evict Families from Historic Beach Community on Staten Island”
  1. Linda Rupert says:

    Another way to take houses away from middle class folks so it can be sold to rich guys who want waterfront property – which is exactly what happened to the property that the city took to build the never built expressway.

  2. Veronica says:

    Dear Money-grubbing a**holes:

    We’re terribly sorry this oh-so-valuable and scenic property is inconveniently occupied by people who make less money than you do, and are therefore OBVIOUSLY incapable of appreciating it. (In a financial manner, at least.) Rest assured, the city is doing all it can to make sure that every inch of desirable property in the world is owned by you, the Greedy One Percent, and everyone else is left to fend for themselves in the colorless suburbs of Nowhere, America.

    Sincerely, NYC Parks Dept.

  3. Bill says:

    How do other taxpayers get a chance to rent beachfront property for a low price? These families have had it for 50 years when do other get the chance?

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  1. [...] is reaching the critical stage, and the Historic Districts Council is on the case. Check out the letter calling on the city to save the place. There is also a Facebook group, of course. [...]

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  3. [...] historic buildings on Staten Island, another wants to demolish them. As we reported earlier, the Parks Department is refusing to renew the lease for the Cedar Grove Beach Club in New Dorp and i… to supposedly convert the property into a public park. We use the word “supposedly” because [...]



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