May 22 - June 4, 2003
Oval Field Funding Pushed
By HEATHER HADDON
Williamsbridge Oval Park's dusty and eroded track and field could see some relief if
Councilman Oliver Koppell is successful securing funding for the Norwood park.
Koppell has put in a bid for roughly $2 million in capital funds for fiscal year 2004 to
repair the field with turf.
"The Oval really is my top priority as far as parks," said Koppell last week.
While expressing this sentiment earlier this year, Koppell was especially moved to do
something about the Oval recently. "My wife and I took a walk around the Oval, and . . . I
decided something really has to be done," he said. "There were rocks in the field. This is
literally dangerous to kids to who play soccer there."
While Koppell called Bronx Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski to take care of
the rocks, he has gone to the Council for major improvements. But negotiations on the
city's contested expense budget are a higher priority than decisions on the capital funds,
and Koppell had no updates on the funding at press time.
Park advocates are glad the Oval is on Koppell's radar screen but they believe there are
more pressing needs than the field renovation.
Though a report prepared earlier this year by the Mosholu Woodlawn South Community
Coalition (MWSCC), the Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation and other community
groups listed reseeding the field and renovating the track in its wish list, it is included in
Phase II. The groups would prefer to see the first $2 million spent on a new playground in
the southern section of the park, repair of the park's fence and three of its entrances, and
"Places in the perimeter fence are dangerous," said Margaret Groarke of
MWSCC. (Disclosure: Groarke is married to Norwood News editor Jordan Moss.) "Some [of the
fence] has rusted away from the wall, so if someone attempted to jump over, it could
But Koppell did acknowledge other trouble spots in the Oval. "We could improve the
lighting, and the stairway needs to be redone," he said.
The southern playground has also not been renovated recently, Groarke said. "It's the
playground closest to the bathroom, which is important for parents with small children,"
As for repairing the field, some park advocates prefer grass to artificial turf. "If they
added turf, they would need to fence and close off the field, and that would be
inappropriate in that space," Groarke said.
Koppell disagrees. "I think that turf is the way to go," he said. "The field is heavily
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