Urban development is one of those areas where a perfect shit storm of fiscal mismanagement can quickly appear while the politicians responsible just shrug their shoulders and say, “Well, that’s just the way things work.”
That was basically the reaction of New York City Councilman David Greenfield after he mentioned the $2 million price tag for a new 400-square-foot public bathroom in a park in his district.
“Government sucks at development,” Greenfield said during a Crain’s New York event on Wednesday.
Funding was first secured for the project in Brooklyn’s Gravesend Park in the summer of 2011, but construction didn’t begin until fall 2015. Residents of the neighborhood expected the bathroom to be completed by this spring—over two years since ground first broke on the project.
The 6.3-acre park underwent a major $7.25 million makeover in 2015, which included new basketball courts and hundreds of new trees.
Heat Street reached out to the councilman’s office to get a little more information on how the city government managed to so effectively light taxpayer dollars on fire.
“Parks staff have told us that working with a multiplicity of building trades on a very small project drives increases in project cost and time. Contractors also report that Parks procurement rules and frequent change orders result in higher bids and lengthy delays. Among the most recent hiccups involved coordination among Parks, Con Edison and the Department of Buildings,” said Greenfield’s chief of staff, Daniel Pearlstein.
In total, the project has taken seven and a half years so far, with each square foot costing around $5,000.
Crazy public bathroom prices aren’t uncommon in New York City. In February 2014, the New York Daily News reported on a 1,225 square-foot bathroom at a playground in Sheepshead Bay that cost $2.6 million.