19, No. 21
Nov. 2 - Nov. 15, 2006
A Look at How Filtration $ Is
Reshaping Local Parks
By SHAZELLE GOULET
The more than $200 million in Bronx parks funding promised by
city officials in exchange for siting a controversial water filtration plant
in Van Cortlandt Park, has begun to change the local landscape. Fences and
bulldozers can be found in most local parks and more are on the way.
Following is a rundown of where the various park projects in Community
District 7 and the Norwood News readership area stand:
Van Cortlandt Park
Van Cortlandt Park’s Saturn Playground — to be renamed Sachkerah Woods
Playground — was one of the first to undergo renovations. It lies just to
the south of the filtration plant construction site. The result of a
community design process several years ago, the project will include a
comfort station, dog walk and a new playground and picnic area. The Parks
Department is pushing for completion by the end of the year. Just north of
the plant site, the Allen Shandler Recreation Area, not yet under
construction, will have its comfort station renovated as well as new
landscaping and reconstruction of the picnic area. Work on this project will
begin in summer 2008.
St. James Park
At St. James Park, construction began in the fall of 2005, with new stone
steps, cast iron fencing and new central staircases. The Parks Department is
pushing for completion of this phase by spring 2007.
Phases II and III at St. James, now in the design phase, will include
reconstruction of the recreation building, pathways, benches, a new
playground and newly manicured lawns. Construction on these phases should
begin in spring 2007. (The reconstruction of the St. James park house, a
project unrelated to the Croton funds, appears to be back on schedule after
a long delay caused by contractor defaults. It should be completed by
winter’s end, the Parks Department said.)
The Williamsbridge Oval Master Plan was presented on Oct. 25 to Community
Board 7’s Parks Committee. Since a Dec. 1 scoping meeting last year, Board
members and the city’s Art Commission have been reviewing the master plan to
see what work is feasible under the existing budget of $13.6 million.
Community members had originally hoped to restore the perimeter walls with
new fencing and gates, stabilize slopes, resurface the track and field,
renovate playgrounds 1 and 3, reconstruct the senior seating area and
restore the recreation center.
The Parks Department had originally divided the projects into seven phases,
but after budgets cuts, there is only enough money for the completion of
three. All Croton funded park projects were cut across the board by 9.5
percent due to underestimated budgets. According to a Parks Department
spokesman, “Cutting the budgets assures that some portion of work will be
completed at all Croton funded parks and that all parks get a fair deal.”
Community members and residents are pushing for the restoration of the track
and field, renovations to the park house, reconstruction of playgrounds 1
and 3, and the re-asphalting of the concrete play area on the east side,
which will include construction of a skate park. The track and field, which
will become Phase I of construction, is set to begin in spring 2007.
Restoration of perimeter walls including fencing and gates and slope
stabilization is now on hold for the foreseeable future, thanks to the
The Parks Department is actively reviewing the scope for Harris Field.
Community members would like to see the park split in two, one half
containing a football/soccer field with synthetic turf. The other side will
contain four separate baseball fields made of natural grass. The fields will
be fenced off with two entrances for better security. A construction date
has yet to be scheduled.
At Devoe Park, the first of two construction phases is under way. A brand
new playground is currently under construction on the west side and
reconstruction of the playground on the east side should be completed by
June 2007. The second phase will consist of renovations to the Parks
building, set to start in summer 2007.
Improvements to Aqueduct Walk and a recreational pathway around the Jerome
Park Reservoir are slated for construction to begin in summer 2008.
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