Vol. 16, No.16  July 31 -  Aug. 27, 2003


Funding Influx for Poe Park


Despite the largest city budget gap since the 1970s, the renaissance at Poe Park is likely to continue with monies appropriated in this year's budget. Hundreds of thousands of dollars from the City Council, borough president and a state grant are all lining up to further the redevelopment of the North Fordham green space.

"Things have been going well lately," said Pat Logan of Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation (FBHC), a local nonprofit, regarding the windfall. "We're looking forward to getting things going, and keeping them moving in a positive direction."

Part of the good news rolled in this month when, after weeks of tense negotiations, Councilman Joel Rivera appropriated $531,000 in capital funds for the park. Rivera expects to do the same in next year's budget, according to Mario Matos, a Rivera aide.

Logan, who has worked extensively on planning and promoting the park's redevelopment, is optimistic that the funds should be enough to begin Phase Two of the project. "We're hoping to sit down with the Bronx [parks] commissioner to get the project started," he said.

Logan is used to this role. He and FBHC helped to usher in the first phase of work on the park in 2000. Completed in 2001, the work on the park included a new playground, lighting, decorative entrances and benches.

The focus of Phase Two is the creation of a digital information center along with much-needed bathrooms. The center will feature exhibits on the park and its most famous resident - Edgar Allan Poe. The improvements carry a $1.55 million price tag. While the borough president and Rivera pledged a total of $1 million last year, only $500,000 ever materialized, as is often the case with capital funds.

In addition to Rivera's funding, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion allotted $175,000 for the park this year to fix its water lines (necessary before building the visitor's center). Carrion also promised repeat funding for next year, according to Logan.

"We're happy to have a long-term commitment from the councilman and the borough president," Logan said.

The work at Poe has also caught the attention of state lawmakers. The park is the recipient of a coveted Land and Water Conservation Fund grant totaling $870,000. (The grants go to projects that protect land or historic sites.) Advocates hope to use the funding, which requires matching funds from the city, to restore the park's historic bandstand. No work has been done on the structure since the 1960s. 

The bandstand has been getting plenty of use during the park's summer concert series, featuring music and children's entertainment (see the Out and About section on p. 22 for specifics). Rivera also pitched in for this, allotting money to the City Parks Foundation to fund concerts throughout the borough.

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