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Pricey makeover on Oriental - Big bucks for planters, cobble stones while courts stagnate

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It’s not the million-dollar mile, but it’s pretty close to it. Back in 2004, City Councilmember Mike Nelson and Borough President Marty Markowitz each allocated funds totaling $450,000 to make Oriental Boulevard in Manhattan Beach even prettier than it already is. Concrete flower pots were erected at each end of the medians, separating traffic in and out of the neighborhood. New plants took root. Over the last few weeks, construction crews have been back in Manhattan Beach installing decorative new cobblestones on those same medians, thanks to a second round of allocations from Nelson and Markowitz totaling an additional $350,000. When it is completed in the spring, the project is slated to extend all the way down to the entrance of Kingsborough Community College. “It’s a beautiful project, but I wish we could find money to pave the basketball courts,” said local activist Ed Eisenberg. Players have been locked out of those courts for years because of the deteriorated and dangerous state of the asphalt. Now, only overgrown weeds and broken glass occupy the space adjacent to the handball courts. “We agree that capital renovation is desired, but, unfortunately, there are no funds in the budget,” said Parks Department spokesperson Phil Abramson. “We will continue talking to elected officials.” Last year, Nelson responded to noise complaints about the Manhattan Beach dog run facing Oriental Boulevard by allocating $125,000 in the New York City budget to have it relocated to another location farther inside the park away from private homes. For some, at least, a shortage of available play space within the community has become a problem. In the fall, Community Board 15 member Dr. Alan Ditchek led a successful campaign to have the permit requirement lifted at the Manhattan Beach ballfields, allowing anyone in the community to play there without first going through the red tape of requesting special permission. Nelson supported the efforts. In 2004, he defended using hundreds of thousands of dollars to beautify Oriental Boulevard, saying, “We do need the money for perhaps more important things. But if we have the money, let’s make my little corner of the world as pretty as possible.”

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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