Vol. 18, No. 9 May 5 - 18, 2005


Parks Undergo Renovations Throughout Area


Throughout Community District 7, local parks are undergoing renovations. Following is a rundown of each of the projects:

Williamsbridge Oval Park
Renovations to the northern entrance of Williamsbridge Oval Park should begin early this summer, according to Warner Johnston, a Parks Department spokesman. The project includes reconstruction of pavements, fencing, curbing and paths, as well as a handicapped-accessible entrance at the entrance, which is on Reservoir Oval between Putnam Place and Reservoir Place. All this will cost $450,000, which was secured by Council Member Oliver Koppell.

Sirio Guerino, a longtime parks advocate and volunteer welcomed the news. “It would be nice if they redid the paths because there is lots of flooding and erosion and the stones are coming up,” he said.

St. James Park
There are two projects at St. James Park. The renovations to the park house, which were delayed last fall due to a contractor default, should be completed by the end of September, according to Johnston.

Replacement of the park’s central staircase, which is unusable and literally crumbling, should begin within the next two months.

Poe Park
A long-planned $351,000 renovation to the Poe Park bandstand is under way. The funding includes an $88,000 grant from the state Office of Parks and Recreation and Historic Preservation and is matched by funds from the borough president and the City Council.  According to the Parks Department, the columns and stairs will be replaced, railings will be installed to mirror the original design, and a power source for lighting and equipment will be installed for performances. In order to accommodate summer programming, the project is scheduled to be completed by June 30. According to Pat Logan, who spearheads Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation’s (FBHC) Poe efforts, there will be an opening concert to celebrate the re-inauguration of the bandstand.

“We are very excited to see them working on it,” Logan said. “We look forward to a real opening.”

As for the digital visitors center planned for Poe, a design consultant has been selected and a fee negotiation is pending. The $2 million project will include a visitors hall, bathrooms and an office.

Devoe Park
The reconstruction of a playground, as well as landscaping and drainage improvements are planned for Devoe Park. Work on the project, slated to cost $1.7 million, should begin construction in late fall 2005.

The project is one of those on the list of parks improvements promised to the Bronx in exchange for siting the Croton filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park. The funds will be provided by the Department of Environmental Protection and the Municipal Water Finance Authority.

MPC, Horticulture Intern
Plan Gardens for Parks


Mosholu Preservation Corporation, the nonprofit that publishes the Norwood News, is working with an intern from the School of Professional Horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden to plant gardens in local parks such as Williamsbridge Oval, Mosholu Parkway, Devoe Park and Poe Park.

The intern, Grace Martinelli, has begun laying the groundwork for her plantings and has already designed gardens for Williamsbridge Oval. She hopes to plant a butterfly garden at the playground near the Oval’s southern entrance. Butterfly gardens contain plants that attract butterflies to their nectar and bright colors.

Tall grasses, such as zebra grass, and drought-tolerant plants will be planted at the park’s entrances. Martinelli, 30, prefers gardening organically, which focuses on planting without herbicides or pesticides. This type of gardening also uses disease-resistant plants whenever possible, Martinelli said.

“By improving parks by creating gardens it would improve the neighborhood,” Martinelli said. “Many people walk in [Oval] Park and it would be nice to have gardens for people to enjoy.”

As an intern at MPC, Martinelli will create guidelines for park volunteers to follow so that the plantings can be maintained. Her maintenance plan will cover things such as when plants are supposed to bloom, if they bloom after being cut and so forth.

The project is funded by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in partnership with the Vinmont Foundation. “Our job,” said Dart Westphal, MPC’s president, “is to make this a nice place for Montefiore and for everyone. [Planting gardens] will be a useful way to direct the [volunteer] energy.”

Work at Poe Park is under way where preparations are already being made for plant beds. Work at the Oval and Mosholu Parkway will begin in the next few weeks and work on Devoe will start in June. “This is an idea whose time has come,” Westphal said.

Volunteers are welcome to help with the general project as well as at It’s My Park Day on Saturday, May 14. Those interested in volunteering should call Dart Westphal at (718) 324-4461.

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