FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
No. PR- 346-06
Mayor Bloomberg Cuts Ribbon On $7.2 Million Barretto Point Park In The South Bronx
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was today joined by Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP ) Commissioner Emily Lloyd to cut the ribbon on Barretto Point Park, a five-acre waterfront park that is the latest addition to the rapidly expanding network of parks throughout the Bronx. The park, located in the Hunts Point neighborhood, was made possible by a $5.3 million allocation of funds from the Mayor's Office, a $1.5 million grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and a $350,000 Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act grant. The Mayor was joined at the ribbon cutting by Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Jr., Congressman José E. Serrano, Assembly Member Carmen Arroyo, State Senators Ruben Diaz, Sr. and José M. Serrano, Bronx Borough Commissioner Hector Aponte and students from the St. Ignatius Elementary-Middle School and the Banana Kelly High School. The Mayor broke ground on the park on July 10, 2005.
"As we cut the ribbon today on Barretto Point Park, we take another step forward in the renaissance of the South Bronx," said Mayor Bloomberg. "From building thousands of units of affordable housing to driving down crime 20% over five years, we are dedicated to improving the quality of life for residents of the South Bronx. Barretto Point Park will provide much-needed recreational space and waterfront access to the Hunts Point community for years to come."
"Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg's generous allocation of $5.3 million in capital funds, we are opening the first new waterfront park in the South Bronx in many years," said Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "The 5-acre Barretto Point Park offers a variety of athletic, recreational, and meditative opportunities that can be enjoyed by park-goers of all ages. With sweeping green lawns, an amphitheater, play areas, a state-of-the-art park house and comfort station, and breathtaking views of the East River and city skyline, Barretto Point is a new jewel in the crown of waterfront parks."
"The New York City Department of Environmental Protection is very pleased to have played a role in the creation of Barretto Point Park," said Commissioner Lloyd. "This beautiful new park is one of several important efforts where, under Mayor Bloomberg's leadership, city agencies are collaborating with Hunts Point community groups and residents to create outstanding community amenities. DEP is looking forward to continuing these partnerships as we plan for future community amenities."
Designed by landscape architect Ricardo Hinkle and designers Rachel Kramer, RLA & Carol Qu, AIA, the new park is situated on a perch along the East River and provides an array of shoreline experiences for a community that had formerly been surrounded on three sides by water but lacked easy access to it. The park's layout and orientation celebrates the spectacular views to the south and west, including an unrivaled view of the Manhattan skyline. The main design feature is a gracefully undulating promenade, lined with benches and groves of trees, bordering a large central lawn. A large, stone and grass amphitheater and stage overlooks the river and skyline vistas. A sand volleyball area, defined by a low stone-seating wall, is carved into the central lawn, adjacent to an enlarged natural sand beach at the bottom of a new boulder revetment.
The park also features basketball and handball courts, play equipment, picnic areas, a comfort station, a boathouse, decorative paved units, fitness areas, and a spray plaza and seating area that will serve as a gateway into the park. New landscaping enhances the urban-pastoral sanctuary.
Until the 1900s, Hunts Point was a lush green landscape with farms and estates. Hunts Point Road began as a Native American trail and later was used as the supply route during the Revolutionary War for ships that docked at Hunts Point. Barretto Point is named after Francis J. Barretto, a merchant and an Assemblyman of Westchester County who owned an estate in the area in the 19th century with his wife, Julia Coster. Prior to 1950, the Barretto Point Park site housed a sand and gravel operation and an asphalt plant. Between 1954 and 1978, the placement of fill on the site increased the size of the upland and raised the grades significantly. In 2001, Parks & Recreation acquired the property from DEP. At the time of acquisition, the park site was abandoned with tall grasses, weeds and debris. The land on which the park was created was remediated and capped to make sure it was clean and safe.
In the last five years, Parks & Recreation has spent more than $113 million for Bronx park improvements, including new waterfront parks, greenways, and athletic facilities. The City is in the midst of a $462 million initiative to improve parks throughout the Bronx over the next five years, with over $200 million coming from the cost-savings of constructing the Croton Water Filtration Facility under Van Cortlandt Park. Forty-four of these projects, representing $100 million, are in design or construction. Projects are expected to be completed over the next five years.
In addition to the $200 million from the Croton Water Filtration Facility, there is over $260 million invested in active park projects in the Bronx, to be developed over the next five years. These projects include the creation of a new park at an old concrete plant in the South Bronx, the expansion of waterfront access at Regatta Park, and the development of the Bronx River Greenway, which will connect the South Bronx and Westchester border with a 15-mile bike and pedestrian path. In addition, new ball fields and athletic facilities are transforming the borough.