Vol. 14, No. 13   June 28 - July 11, 2001 


Parks Update
Oval, Poe, and Villa Playground Targeted for Improvements


The city budget agreed to this month by the City Council and the mayor includes money for repairs to three local parks and playgrounds.

Poe Park in Fordham Bedford will benefit from just over $1 million allocated by Councilman Joel Rivera. The park, once home to poet Edgar Allan Poe, is in the midst of Phase One of a comprehensive redesign and renovation project. According to Pat Logan of Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation, the new funding is for Phase Two, the majority of which is for a digital visitor's center that will include new bathrooms, and exhibits covering the Bronx, Poe, and the cottage he lived in on the park's grounds.

Phase One, which includes new lighting, entrances and fences, was expected to be completed in July, but, according to Logan, the completion date has been pushed back to Sept. 15. Rivera did not return a call to his office seeking further details on the funding for Phase Two.

A neglected privately-owned playground on Villa Avenue in Bedford Park that has been locked up for years will become city parkland with combined funding from Assemblyman Jeffrey Klein and Councilwoman June Eisland. Klein said he is turning over all $325,000 in transportation funds he received to distribute in his district to the Parks Department to use on various park improvement projects including the Villa Avenue property, which is known as the Castaldo Playground. The money will go toward sidewalk repair, fencing and playground equipment. Eisland's funding, about $20,000 according to Klein, will be used to pay off the back taxes owed the city by the former owner. The city took over the property last year for nonpayment of taxes, Klein said.

Finally, the Williamsbridge Oval Playground in Norwood will receive $400,000 in the fiscal year beginning July 1 and another $450,000 for next year. The money, allocated by Councilwoman June Eisland, will be used to repair two of the park's entrances and for erosion control on some of the park's slopes. Eisland's office did not know the specifics of which precise areas of the park would receive attention and Bronx Parks Commissioner Bill Castro did not return a call seeking additional information.

The new funding follows money from the two previous city budgets for the renovation of the tennis courts at the Oval, repair of the park's western entrance, and erosion control in between the tennis courts and the fence. That work is expected to begin in July.

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