The Home Depot on Cropsey Avenue has been breaking a city-issued mandate to allow access to a waterfront esplanade next to the store, according to locals and city officials who say that the gate to the esplanade on the big-box store’s property is often locked up long after dawn and well before dusk — the times it is supposed to be open to the public.
City zoning laws require retail stores built on the waterfront to develop public paths or parks along the shore, and the hardware giant built two gravel pathways that lead from its parking lot to Coney Island Creek when it opened a decade ago between W. 20th and 22nd streets next to Calvert Vaux Park.
But residents say the store is locking the gate to the path during the day.
“The waterfront has been gated off the times that I’ve been down there,” said Brighton Beach resident Ida Sanoff, who chairs the Brooklyn-based Natural Resources Protective Association, a marine conservation group.
The waterfront access issue was first reported by the Sheepshead Bites-owned blog BensonhurstBean.com.
But Home Depot insists that it has been keeping its promise to the city.
“We have been doing so since 2001,” said spokeswoman Jen King. “We lock the gate every night to prevent dumping and open it to the public in the morning.”
The Parks Department, which enforces esplanade maintenance, also vouched for Home Depot.
“There are gates that get locked at night, but they are open to the public during the day,” said Parks spokeswoman Meghan Lalor.
When this paper visited the paths on June 14, the gate was open.
But the Department of City Planning released a report in 2005 saying “both pathways are gated and often locked.” The agency declined to comment on the current state of the path, which Home Depot is also responsible for keeping open and clean.
Even when the gates are locked, hikers can reach the creek by walking through Calvert Vaux Park, located next to Home Depot.
Other chains haven’t been accused of chaining off their esplanades.
Lowe’s on Second Avenue near the Gowanus Canal doesn’t barricade the esplanade that it built along with the store 10 years ago, according to Community Board 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman.
“Access has never been a problem,” Hammerman said.
Even better is IKEA’s waterfront esplanade, which runs along the Erie Basin in Red Hook. The mile-long stretch, which opened in 2008 as a peace offering to locals who opposed the Swedish superstore, is a park with about 10,000 plants, a paved walkway and artifacts that reflect the basin’s shipyard heritage.
“It’s a shame to hear that the Home Depot paths aren’t like IKEA’s,” Hammerman added.
©2011 Community News Group
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