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Hunts Point Playground

The Daily Plant : Tuesday, July 27, 2004

A COMMUNITY’S VISION BECOMES A REALITY


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg joined Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe and community members on July 19 to break ground on the $3.2 million construction of Hunt’s Point Riverside Park in the South Bronx. The project, which is expected to be completed by early 2006, will transform a 1.4-acre vacant lot that had been used as an illegal dumping ground into a park with waterfront access at the head of the Bronx River Greenway.

"Hunt’s Point Riverside Park will provide much needed green space in the South Bronx and will offer New Yorkers access to the Bronx River, New York’s only freshwater river," said Commissioner Benepe. "With the support of the community, we are continuing to open up the New York City waterfront for all New Yorkers to enjoy."

The story of Hunt’s Point Riverside Park is one of community involvement and stewardship and traces itself back to a dog walk in 1997. It was then that Majora Carter, a local community member and founder of Sustainable South Bronx, was walking her dog along her daily route. A slight detour led her past some empty tires and trash and brought her to the edge of the Bronx River. What Carter discovered was an abandoned, dead-end street that had long served as an illegal dumping ground. Despite its dilapidated state, Carter saw potential in the abandoned plot of land as a waterfront park and spread word of that potential throughout the community.

The idea of transforming the site into a waterfront park resonated with the community. First, the community cleaned up the site. With the help of a $10,000 seed grant, community members and organizations, including the Point Community Development Center, were able to take the first steps in transforming the site by cleaning it up and removing hundreds of tires and piles of garbage. Additional work included new plantings and shrubs and the clearing of a pathway from the water’s edge to the abandoned rail tracks that mark the park’s entrance. What emerged was a gathering point for community events and river-oriented activities, including canoeing and kayaking. Today, people of all ages use the site as a canoe and kayak launch.

Mayor Bloomberg recognized the community’s strong role in transforming the land during his remarks at the event. "The people of the Hunt’s Point community have clearly demonstrated their desire for recreational space – they’ve done as much as they can," said the Mayor. " Now, it’s our turn to do our part," referring to the City’s role in the construction project.

When completed, Hunt’s Point Riverside Park will be a gateway to the Bronx River and will include a fishing and recreational pier with a floating dock, a central oval lawn, and a natural riverside amphitheater with stone seating and lawn panels. The shoreline of the Bronx River will be protected with a rebuilt bulkhead, an inter-tidal gravel beach, and new plantings.

Written by Ashe Reardon

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"If you are going to win any battle, you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do...
the body is never tired if the mind is not tired."

General George S. Patton
(1885-1945)

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