Although Hurricane Sandy did significant damage to Stephen R. Gregg Park, destroying some of the public bathroom facilities and knocking out all of the security cameras for a time, internet access and powering of cameras had problems prior to the storm, county officials say. They have been asking for alternative power sources and other changes that might help the system work better.
Freeholder Bill O’Dea said that originally, all 32 security cameras were knocked out by Hurricane Sandy, but that after three-and-a-half months, 20 of the 32 remain out.
Bayonne Freeholder Doreen DiDomenico said vandalism has been a significant issue in the park, partly because of its size and numerous sections that are often obscured from easy view of a Sheriff patrol cars and parks department workers.
At about 100 acres, Gregg Park in Bayonne is one of the county’s largest parks, with active and passive recre¬ation spots along the waterfront. Ball fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, bocce courts, horseshoe pits, and a running track are available to the public. And though the lower level, where the more active recreation areas are located, can often be blocked against auto traffic by gates at the two roadway access points, people can walk down into these areas.
“There was no real plan for planting the trees.” – Doreen DiDomenico
Workers reported significant graffiti at the gazebo near the north end of the upper section of the park, as well as other damage to facilities in the lower portions of the park.
There are three tunnels similar to those found in Central Park in New York City that allow foot access from the upper level to the lower level. These tunnels have cameras that are currently offline, said officials.
DiDomenico said the cameras are currently being rewired and possibly being repositioned so that they have a line of sight to both ends of the three tunnels. These are areas where people are likely to congregate to drink and wreak havoc.
Last year, the county installed cameras at key locations in this park which can be monitored from a remote area by patrol officers, repeating a successful pilot project conducted in Lincoln Park in Jersey City the previous year.
Because the cameras use the internet to transmit, the county was also able to provide free internet access for mobile devises in both parks.
But O’Dea said internet service was often interrupted and power to the camera – currently being restored by PSE&G – has been having issues since prior to the storm, partly because the cameras and their power sources are too close to many existing trees.
“There was no real plan for planting the trees,” DiDomenico said. “People were allowed to plant anywhere, and now it is a problem.”
Connections are frequently knocked out, even during normal rain or windy conditions, O’Dea said.
“We hope to present a resolution shortly that will allow us to hardwire certain areas of the park that will deal with these camera connection problems,” O’Dea said.
Meanwhile, the county is moving ahead with its plans to bring camera and Wi-Fi access to the rest of the county parks with Mercer Park on the Bayonne/Jersey City border and Columbus Park in Hoboken designated for 2013, with the remaining parks for 2014, O’Dea said.
These cameras are monitored by the sheriff’s department from facilities in Lincoln Park, but O’Dea asked them to provide monitoring equipment to the Hoboken Police Department in order for their officers to be able to oversee potential problems there.
“We would pay for the equipment, if they promise to do the monitoring,” O’Dea said.
Other issues in Gregg Park
Gregg Park has other problems due to Sandy that the county is currently trying to deal with it. While some of the toilet facilities were initially closed after Sandy, the lower level bathrooms at the foot of the promenade are still closed.
“Unfortunately, the lower level bathrooms suffered severe water damage from Sandy, the entire inside walls have to be removed and mold needs to be removed, then the walls and plumbing need to be reconstructed. We may have to have Porta-Johns placed there soon,” DiDomenico said.
While things went well with sledding in the park after the recent snow storm, DiDomenico said she had concerns about various objects such as picnic tables and would like to see snow fencing placed around those in the path of sledders.
“I’m just afraid if a bunch of kids pile up on a sled and the weight takes them skidding further down that they might crash into the tables or concrete slabs,” she said.
Also the storm caused a lot of damage to trees and stumps still remain which need to be removed, she said.