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Crotona Park

The Daily Plant : Monday, May 21, 2001

RANGERS TO STAFF CROTONA PARK’S NEW NATURE CENTER

The Crotona Park Nature Center opened to the public full time on Thursday, May 17. A crowd of Parkies and neighborhood residents gathered to celebrate the park's past and look ahead to a richly programmed future.

In ambitious construction projects of the 1930s that included 5 baseball diamonds, 20 tennis courts, 26 handball courts, and a swimming pool and bathhouse complex, Crotona Park became, like its namesake-the Greek colony famous for Olympic sports-an athletic arena. Today, it is poised to be a center for the study of nature too.

Until the 1970s, a concessionaire operated boat rentals in the boathouse. In 1984, after a decade of abandonment, the boathouse became a nature center for the Urban Park Rangers. But as the surrounding neighborhoods declined, the Rangers moved to other parks. Their return signals the reciprocal revitalization of Crotona Park and neighboring South Bronx communities. Now, with funds from the JM Kaplan Foundation and the Wallace-Readers Digest Foundation, a Ranger will be stationed in Crotona Park full time, headquartered in the nature center. They will offer the signature nature programs that give our Rangers their good name, including nature tours, arts projects, lectures, and restoration efforts. Each year, the Urban Park Rangers reach over 50,000 people at nature centers around the city.

Since it was renovated two years ago with a grant from a community member, The Crotona Park nature center has been equipped with display cases, nature books and videos, stuffed animal specimens, games, and community resource materials, and people too. Now, the center will open full time with full time staff, and double the number of programs as last summer. These developments are significant in themselves, but for what they indicate about the renaissance in Crotona Park, they are cause for celebration.

In ten years, Crotona Park has been reborn. The Friends of Crotona Park was created to advocate for the park. Working with Crotona Park administrator, Samantha (Crotona) Stone, they've developed programs and attracted the support of elected officials, notably Council Member Joe Rivera. Indian Lake has been cleaned and equipped with aerators, and all of the park's seven playgrounds have received capital improvements. Most importantly, a strong collaborative team has developed. The Friends of Crotona Park, Phipps Community Development Corp., the Cityscape Institute, and Partnerships for Parks have begun to develop-and realize-a restoration and management plan for Crotona Park that joins landscape architects and community residents in the effort to revision the park.

If the success of their efforts and the new nature center are any indication, Crotona Park will enjoy a thriving future as a magnet for neighborhood activity and a destination for New Yorkers and visitors.

PARKS SWIMMERS COMPLETE A SEASON WELL-SWUM

Congratulations to the eleven swim teams that participated in the third annual Boro Cup Championships on Saturday, May 20, 2001. The competition brought their season of indoor swim-begun in October-to an end. 256 swimmers participated in the meet, which was held at the Lehman College pool. Now the teams will take a well-deserved rest and prepare for the start of the outdoor swim season.

THIRTEEN YEARS AGO IN THE PLANT
(Monday, May 23, 1988)

TRAFFIC TRIANGLE DEDICATED TO DECEASED BROOKLYN LEADER

Although community leader Sam Leggio died three years ago, the Cypress Hills community in Brooklyn has ensured that his name will always live on. Last Wednesday, a number of local boy scouts and other community residents joined city officials at Hale and Jamaica Avenues to rename a traffic triangle in Leggio's honor.

A local law to rename the traffic triangle after Leggio was introduced by Councilman Victor L. Robles and passed by the City Council last December.

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"Science throws her treasures, not like a capricious fairy into the lap of a favored few, but into the laps of all humanity, with a lavish extravagance that no legend ever dreamed of."

Ernst Mach (1838-1916)

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