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Yorkville Sledding Hill Closing to Public This Winter During Esplanade Work

By Shaye Weaver | July 19, 2017 7:31am
 The sledding hill behind Gracie Mansion in Carl Schurz Park (not pictured) will be off limits to the public for 10 months while the Parks Department repairs the esplanade.
The sledding hill behind Gracie Mansion in Carl Schurz Park (not pictured) will be off limits to the public for 10 months while the Parks Department repairs the esplanade.
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Shutterstock/Lane V. Erickson

YORKVILLE — Take your sleds elsewhere this winter, kids.

While fixing a crumbled stretch of seawall on the East River Esplanade, the Parks Department plans to use the hill in Carl Schurz Park behind Gracie Mansion to host construction equipment — making the popular sledding spot off limits this coming winter.

The seawall and edge of the concrete walkway at East 89th Street in the park deteriorated and fell after a heavy downpour in May. The Parks Department needs to rebuild the seawall and edge, including an iron fence that fell into the river, officials said.

The work is slated to take roughly 10 months, meaning that it will be closed to the public in the winter during prime sledding season and that bicyclists and runners will need to find an alternate path until the repair work is done. The area has already been fenced off.

Credit: NYC Parks
During a Community Board 8 meeting on July 13, residents voiced concerns that the sledding hill would be flattened and ruined as a result.

But parks officials, including Parks Commissioner Bill Castro, promised the hill would not be flattened and that any damage would be repaired and the lawn re-sodded after the work was completed. Additionally, the agency will create a temporary gravel and recycled-asphalt pathway up to the hill for construction equipment, they said at the meeting.

"[Castro] also explained that after the repairs to the esplanade are made, the sledding hill will be restored to its original condition," said CB8 chairman Jim Clynes. "Commissioner Castro has always been the reassuring voice of reason."

Some residents were angry the Parks Department didn't notify them earlier, before the lawn was fenced off, but the community board nonetheless adopted a resolution supporting the work. The board noted in its approval the repairs need to be done, asking the Parks Department to speed up the repairs and take extra steps to protect the public's safety during construction by adding a pedestrian manager, a safe detour route and crossing guards at key locations, including at busy 96th Street.

"While the parks committee found it regrettable that construction had to involve Carl Schurz Park, the Parks Department insisted it was the only feasible way to get the construction done," said CB8 Parks Committee co-chair Peggy Price. "The full community board is on record urging the Parks Department to complete repairs of the esplanade as soon as remotely possible, especially in the 88th to 90th street area, which is so dangerous to users.”

CB8's full board will vote on the resolution Wednesday.

During the repair work, cyclists who want to continue north along the esplanade should exit the park at 88th or 89th streets to First Avenue and head north to 96th Street to re-enter the esplanade. Those heading south on the esplanade should exit at 96th Street and head west to the bike lane on Second Avenue, take it down to 90th Street and re-enter the park at 88th Street. There will be signs directing cyclists to the detour, parks officials said.