18, No. 18
Sept. 22 - Oct.5, 2005
Filtration Money Begins Making Its Mark on Parks
VC Park Designs Follow Community’s Plan
By JORDAN MOSS
The $200 million fund created to improve Bronx parks in
connection with the construction of the Croton water filtration plant in Van
Cortlandt Park has already been put to good use in local green spaces.
In St. James Park, the first phase of a $5 million renovation is well under
way. The central staircase at Creston Avenue is complete, with new stone
steps, cast-iron fencing and a small garden at the foot of the steps. Work
has not yet been completed on staircases at the northeast and southeast
corners of the park. Phase II of the project, which will include new paths
and the repair of perimeter fencing, is scheduled to begin next spring.
Three years ago, a group of young people at the Mosholu Montefiore Community
Center and the COVE youth center in Knox-Gates gathered with park advocates,
an urban planner from Harvard and a designer from the Parks Department to
envision what they wanted for the southeastern entrance of the park at the
corner of Jerome Avenue and Gun Hill Road, an area known as the Saturn
At the time, the obstacles to realizing the vision were significant
considering the lack of capital funds for such projects. But the money from
the sale of water bonds in connection with the siting of the plant just
north of the southeast corner, has turned what was seemingly an academic
exercise into official architectural plans. The Parks Department has already
awarded the job to a contractor and work is expected to begin later this
fall and end a year later, according to a spokesman for the agency,
Park advocates seemed pleasantly surprised that their work was so closely
“Everything that people asked for — the fence around
the area, the water play, the sitting area, the large comfort station, new
entrance — all of that is in this plan,” said Paul Sawyer, executive
director of the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, an advocacy group. “It’s
wonderful that this construction is so in line with what the community
talked about …”
Sawyer was also pleased that the three-section
playground is set closer to the park entrance, another feature the community
Also included in the community’s plan were two additional phases of
construction that included a jogging path, a community garden and a dog run.
Those parts of the plan are not yet funded.
Several other major park projects in the area are still in the planning
stages (see sidebar), but all are scheduled to be completed within the next
five years, according to the Parks Department.
Park Projects in Area Associated With
Devoe Park — $3 million
Reconstruction of playground to include new play equipment,
landscaping and drainage improvements. Construction is expected
to begin next spring.
Williamsbridge Oval Park —
Park work to include the restoration of perimeter walls and
fencing with gates ($1,860,000); track and field, ($1,950,000);
playground #1, ($1,100,000); playground #3, ($1,100,000); senior
area, ($650,000), roller hockey area/skate park ($2,500,000);
slope stabilization and promenade ($3,430,035), and recreation
site work (2,340,000).
Harris Park Ball Fields — $9,860,000
Reconstruction of nine athletic fields, three new staircases and
ADA access leading into the park..
Van Cortlandt Park, Allen Shandler Recreation Area —
Reconstruction of the picnic area landscape and the renovation
of the existing comfort station.
Aqueduct Walk — $7 million
Reconstruction of first Aqueduct section from Kingsbridge Road
to Morton Place. Section to include new promenade pavement, new
playgrounds, and new passive spaces.
Jerome Park Reservoir Pathway — $5 million
New recreational pathway to be constructed around the reservoir.
St. James Park — $5 million
Reconstruction of the retaining walls with new perimeter
fencing, pathways, sidewalk, landscaping, and stairs.
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