|Vol. 13, No. 7
||April 6 - 19,
THE STATE OF OUR PARKS --
First in a Series
New Commitment to Poe Park Paves Way for Renovation Plan
By HANNAN ADELY
Helen Hamer thinks it all started with
the playground. In June of 1998, Saturn of the Bronx donated parts and
labor, and with 100 local volunteers, a playground was built in Poe
Park in just one day. From then on, good news seemed to snowball.
Hamer, president of the Ravens, a Poe Park volunteer group founded in 1998, has seen the
park get boosts from volunteerism, from funding allocated by two Bronx elected officials,
and from the diligent work of the Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation (FBHC), a local
nonprofit that owns and manages 70 apartment buildings in the area.
Just last year, FBHC gathered support for a renovation proposal that calls for wrought-
iron benches and fencing, new bathrooms and landscaping. FBHC also requested a monument
honoring Edgar Allen Poe, the popular poet and horror author who used to live on the
premises. The proposal will soon become reality thanks to an $80,000 grant from Borough
President Fernando Ferrer and $800,000 allocated by Councilman Jose Rivera. Renovations
are set to begin in August.
FBHC has also developed a Phase II of its renovation plan, which proposes a Digital
Visitors Center in the park so visitors can learn more about Poe. The center would include
a multi-purpose room with digital display technology, bathrooms and room for an office and
exhibit storage. Pat Logan of FBHC said Ferrer, Rivera and Congressman Eliot Engel are
considering providing financial support for the plan. The Ravens, which have about a dozen
core members, do their part to keep Poe Park in top shape by sponsoring events, by
planting and by helping out in city clean-up efforts. FBHC and the Ravens also work
closely with the 52nd Precinct to ensure consistent police coverage of the area.
"I have seen a big change," Hamer said. "After the [playground was built],
you saw more families. Now, we want to make sure the park stays safe and clean on any
Fordham Bedford resident Jhalman Dass can see the difference. Dass, who brings his 1-
year-old daughter to play in the park, said there is less graffiti and more police
presence. He also welcomes the idea of having a visitor's center in the park. "If
it's for the kids, it's very good," he said. "Now, kids won't have to go very
far for these things."
But it's not only kids who enjoy the park. Grown-ups and kids all can participate in
upcoming events. This spring, the Ravens will sponsor an Easter Egg Hunt on April 23 from
12:30 to 3:30 p.m., and Friends and Families Day on June 3. Also, on May 13, the Ravens
will host its Mother's Day Celebration, featuring dancing, games, and picture-taking.
Hamer said the Ravens would also like to sponsor a health fair and a music program in the
park this summer.
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