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Bronx Park

The Daily Plant : Tuesday, February 26, 2002

IMPROVING THE BRONX RIVER WATERFRONT

"The glad spring gushing from the rock’s bare bosom
Sweet sights, sweet sounds, all sights, all sounds excelling
Oh! ‘twas a ravishing spot formed for a poet’s dwelling"

Joseph Rodman Drake’s 1817 poem simply entitled "Bronx" is not a work of literary greatness; but it is a passionate expression of the author’s appreciation for his natural surroundings. Drake, a physician and pharmacist by trade, spent much of his free time rowing the waters of the Bronx River and writing of the bucolic pleasures he found there and in the surrounding countryside. Over a century later, New Yorkers are working hard to ensure that Bronx River will be a thing of beauty for generations to come.

Bronx Garage and Forestry, the Natural Resources Group (NRG), the Bronx River Alliance, the Bronx Parks Career Training Program (PACT), Partnerships for Parks, and District 11 are working on a major cleanup of the Bronx River. Deputy Chief of Operations Paul D’Amore reports that the cleanup is part of the boroughwide 5X5 program, through which Parks cleans and repairs five major park sites in each of the five boroughs throughout the year. Started in 1987, 5x5 is one of the largest self-funded, in-house maintenance campaign that Parks undertakes. Bronx Borough Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski acknowledged that the cleanup effort is quite an endeavor, but she added that it was wonderful to see " a number of people who work for the Bronx, but not necessarily together, working towards a common goal."

Bronx River Conservation Specialist Brian Aucoin and the team worked in the Bronx River Forest from February 4 to February 8, in an area that spans from the Duncomb Bridge at Gunhill Road down to Kazimiroff/Allerton Avenues (also the border of the New York Botanical Garden). Their objective was to clear river blockages, remove invasive understory and vine infestations, prune and chip hazardous trees and limbs.

Over 60 community groups, government agencies, schools and businesses have committed energy, time, and money towards the goal of a healthy river and a thriving waterfront park. Bronx River advocacy began in 1974 with the Bronx River Restoration Project, Inc. The creation of the Bronx River Alliance in 2001 represents the consolidation of efforts to renew and preserve the waterway. Over the past three years, Parks has acquired over forty critical acres of parkland along the river. Parks has also secured sponsors for its Adopt-a-River program, worked with the National Guard to remove over 22 cars and 10,000 tires from the river, and created staff positions to coordinate these efforts. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) gave the NRG nearly $191,000 in 2000 to restore the segment of the Bronx River that flows through the long, narrow "shoelace" section of Bronx Park. NRG has implemented various bioengineering techniques to combat the cumulative ecological problems facing the river. To date, over $90 million in federal, state and local funds have been secured towards the Bronx River’s redevelopment.

With eight of its twenty-three miles winding through the city, the Bronx River waterfront represents a significant portion of New York City’s waterfront parkland. The current restoration projects clearly have great ecological, economic, and social implications for the Bronx's riverfront communities. With the support of so many dedicated people behind it, there is every reason to believe that the Bronx River restoration will be a success.

Written by Jennifer Keeney

MANY THANKS TO ONE DEDICATED PARKS VOLUNTEER

A Parks volunteer discovered a shopping cart full of evergreens stolen from Donnellan Square on Tuesday morning. While on her way to work, the volunteer noticed the shopping cart next to a local newsstand at 145th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue. Having been a part of the efforts to revitalize Donnellan Square and also a member of the community group that acts as the caretaker of the greenstreet, this volunteer recognized the shrubbery immediately. She walked to the greenstreet to investigate and discovered holes in the ground from where the evergreens had once lived. Returning to the newsstand and inquiring about the cart, the Parks volunteer then called the police who in turn told her that a Parks official would have to identify the plants as Parks property. PEP officers and SPMO Richard Cox arrived at the scene and took charge. The volunteer, having done her part, finally headed of to work, arriving an hour and a half late. This occurrence, while unfortunate, is a great testament to the dedication of Parks volunteers and an example of the love New Yorkers have for their local parks.

Donnellan Square, actually the shape of a triangle, is one the biggest greenstreets in New York City. It is also the most expensive greenstreet ever, with a budget of $400,000, half of which was allocated by former Council Member Stanley Michels and half a requirements contract. The groundbreaking was just six months ago, making this theft especially upsetting to those volunteers and community members that played a role in rebuilding the square.

THIRTEEN YEARS AGO IN THE PLANT

(Tuesday, March 7, 1989)

CITIZENS GROUPS: CITIZENS COMMITTEE FOR NEW YORK CITY

"The media portrays New Yorkers as greedy, heartless, cold, and anonymous," said Michael E. Clark. Executive Director of the Citizens Committee for New York City (CCNYC). "This doesn’t square with what we see everyday. There are also thousands of New Yorkers working to clean up the city, visiting the sick, fighting crime in their neighborhoods. People might think it’s sappy, but it’s real."

Over 10,000 neighborhood and block associations work with CCNYC to improve the quality of life in New York City. The non-profit group, founded by the late Senator Jacob Javits in 1975, offers seminars grants, staff support, training and consultation to these groups through four major programs: the Neighborhood Anticrime Center, Project One City, the Neighborhood Youth Leadership Center, and Neighborhood Resources.

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"I leaned against a bark of birch, and I breathed the honey dew
I saw a north-bound flock of geese against a sky of baby blue
Beside the lily pads I carved a whistle from a reed;
Mother Nature's quite a Lady, but you're the one I need."

Johnny Cash
(b. February 26, 1932)

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