Friends of Mafera Park were joined by Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi and his staff for a park cleanup at the end of August. During the cleanup, they encountered the MTA-owned fence that separates the park from subway train tracks.
It was severely run-down and posed a danger to residents: tilted downward with exposed barbed wire and a makeshift barrier attempting to hold it up.
Linda Byszynski, who leads Friends of Mafera Park, connected Hevesi to the issue, informing him about the concerns and complaints from locals.
“Our immediate concern was that barbed wire, especially where it was hanging down,” said Alexa Arecchi, Hevesi’s chief of staff. “A tall person or a kid climbing could reach it with not much difficulty,”
Hevesi reached out to State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilman Robert Holden who wrote a letter to MTA chairman Janno Lieber asking the agency to remedy the situation.
“We are aware and appreciative that a team was sent out to secure the fence, which appears to be tilting forward and pulling out of the ground, but their efforts have resulted only in a temporary solution,” the letter read. “It is clear that the fence between Mafera Park and the Fresh Pond Yard must be replaced, an effort which will require all of our cooperation and take some time.”
Hevesi said the MTA promptly responded to their request and that they worked to remove the barbed wire at the end of last week. He said he’s appreciative of the quick turnaround.
“As long as it’s safer for the kids, then that’s a nice, quick, short-term solution,” he said.
Although his office received confirmation from the MTA that the dangerous barbed wire has been removed, a long-term solution is still in the works.
“We have to figure out what funding stream is available,” Hevesi said. “There might be something in the MTA’s existing infrastructure package that can handle this.
“We’re going to bring everybody together and figure out a collaborative approach to fixing this problem,” he added.
Arecchi said the ultimate goal is to replace the fence entirely, as well as make a slew of other improvements to the park, none of which will require MTA attention.
“As far as I know, no one was injured from the fence,” she added. “We don’t want to wait until something bad happens to take care of this problem, because you can see it was just going to be a matter of time.”