Estella Diggs Park
Parks Joins Morrisania Community To Open $2.6 Million Estella Diggs ParkFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 7, 2011
Commissioner Adrian Benepe today joined Estella Diggs, her children and grandchildren, Council Member Helen Diane Foster, State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, members of Community Board 3, students from the Harriet Tubman Charter School, and a throng of parishioners from St. Augustine's Church, which Ms. Diggs has been a member of since 1948, to cut the ribbon on a new $2.6 million park named for Ms. Diggs. Before the event, members of the St. Augustine’s choir sang a moving rendition of the “How Great Thou Art" hymnal.
Estella Diggs moved to the Bronx in 1931 and has lived in Morrisania since 1942. She has been a lifelong community advocate and organizer, and in 1972 she became the first African-American woman to represent the Bronx in the NY State Assembly. During her time in the Assembly, she sponsored or co-sponsored more than 70 bills, including programs promoting economic development, improved housing, social services, and education. Diggs retired from public service in 1984, but continued to work as a volunteer in her community until age 85. At the age of 95, she still resides in the home where she raised three children.
“Thanks to $2,600,000 in funding from Mayor Bloomberg and Council Member Helen Diane Foster, Estella Diggs Park has been transformed from a vacant lot into a verdant oasis,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, “This new park is a fitting tribute to Estella Digg’s lifelong dedication to the Morrisania community, with walking paths that meander through landscaped gardens and sitting areas, native plantings, and abundant shade trees.”
Formerly known as Rocks and Roots Park, this space was designed by Nancy Owens Studio LLC Architects to blend with the park’s rock outcroppings while evoking a Chinese landscape painting. The new park includes gathering and sitting areas, handicapped-accessible walking paths and landscaped gardens. The project also included extensive excavation and re-grading work due to the site’s hilly and rocky conditions. The project with funded with $2.5 million from Council Member Foster and $100,000 allocated by Mayor Bloomberg.
In addition, the park’s second phase is currently in design and is scheduled to begin construction in the fall of 2012. The second phase is funded with $1.4 million allocated by Council Member Foster and $500,000 allocated by Borough President Diaz and will include site stabilization, landscaping, paths, and a playground.