LONG ISLAND CITY — After years of being fenced off from the waterfront, Queensbridge Park visitors can once again stroll along the East River after the city repaired the park's long-deteriorated seawall on Tuesday.
The nearly $7 million project broke ground last summer, after being hindered for more than a decade by funding delays, and includes the newly rebuilt seawall, as well as a waterfront promenade with benches and a small wharf for fishing.
"I made it my business to be here today because this is something that we’ve been fighting for for a long time," said John D. Smith, Sr., who has lived near Queensbridge Park for 60 years. "To see it now, it's really something. It's just amazing."
Officials and residents said the park's waterfront was closed off years ago for safety reasons after the seawall fell into disrepair.
"You couldn't go near there because it had big holes," said Elizabeth McQueen, president of the Friends of Queensbridge Park, which has been pushing to see the wall fixed.
The long-delayed reconstruction finally got the green light last year when City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer allocated $3.65 million to the project, which also got $1 million each from the Queens Borough President's Office, the mayor's office and the MTA.
"We all fought really hard to make this happen," Van Bramer said at a ribbon-cutting for the project on Tuesday.
According to the Parks Department, the seawall was repaired using "riprap revetment" — large rocks that protect the shoreline by absorbing and deflecting waves, while lessening the effects of erosion.
The city is also planning a $2.5 million renovation of the unused park house in Queensbridge Park, which may include amenities like a modern comfort station, storage facilities for athletic teams and offices for the park’s staff.