FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
NYC PARKS CUTS THE RIBBON ON $19.6 MILLION ST. MARY’S PARK ANCHOR PARKS RENOVATION & AND FORMALLY UNVEILS NEWLY RENAMED GIL SCOTT-HERON AMPHITHEATER
NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff today joined Deputy Bronx Borough President Marricka Scott-McFadden, State Senator Jose M. Serrano, Assembly Member Amanda Septimo, son of Gil Scott-Heron, Rumal Rackley and family, and members of the community to officially cut the ribbon on the $19.6 million Anchor Parks Phase II project and unveil the newly renamed Gil Scott-Heron Amphitheater.
Launched by Mayor Bill de Blasio in August 2016, the Anchor Parks initiative committed a total of $150 million in City funding for major improvements at five large parks: Astoria Park in Queens, Highbridge Park in Manhattan, Betsy Head Park in Brooklyn, St. Mary’s Park in the Bronx, and Freshkills Park on Staten Island. More than 750,000 New Yorkers live within walking distance of the five Anchor Parks. Each was selected based on historical underinvestment, high surrounding population, and potential for park development.
“We are proud to cut the ribbon on this $19.6 million Anchor Parks project and unveil the renovated, newly named Gil Scott-Heron Amphitheater for the enjoyment of the people of the South Bronx,” said Parks Commissioner Fialkoff. “We thank Mayor de Blasio for this investment in the community which only further enhances the full recovery of our city, providing a wonderfully renovated greenspace for all to enjoy.”
"Enhancing greenspace and providing Bronxites with places to enjoy sports, music, entertainment and space to socialize while engaging with their neighbors has always been a priority of our office," said Deputy Bronx Borough President Marricka Scott-McFadden. "I am proud to have joined The Parks Department, colleagues and community members at St. Mary’s Park to cut the ribbon on the $19 million Anchor Parks phase II project and unveil the newly renamed Gil Scott-Heron Amphitheater. Bronx residents and visitors from all over will enjoy these upgrades for years to come.”
The amphitheater, now the Gil Scott-Heron Amphitheater, has been renamed in honor of Gil Scott-Heron, a pioneering soul and jazz poet, musician, and author. As a young man, he attended DeWitt Clinton High School and the Fieldston School in the Bronx.
The St. Mary’s Park Anchor Parks project was executed in two phases, outlined below:
Phase I: The first phase of construction will boast more than $10 million in improvements including: two reconstructed ballfields; sports event seating; an expanded dog run with a water fountain; sports lighting; an ADA accessible seating area; new fencing; and landscape upgrades with new planting beds. Construction is expected to be completed by next spring.
Phase II: Phase two of the $19.6 million Anchor Parks project at St. Mary’s Park will reconfigure the performance area with amphitheater seating; add new native plants to increase biodiversity in the park; install new park security lighting; update the drainage system throughout the park; renovate the 149th street plaza with new seating and spray shower (to be complete by the end of the year); and reconfigure paths and other paved areas with new stairs and stone walls to accommodate wheelchair accessible paths.
Details for the other four Anchor Parks projects are as follows:
Astoria Park, Queens
Phase I: This project includes a synthetic turf soccer field and track, site amenities and much needed erosion control.
Phase II: This project includes the reconstruction of Charybdis Playground, spray shower, and comfort station.
Highbridge Park, Manhattan
Phase I: This project will reinstate access to a 10-block stretch of the park, improve connectivity and pathways, restore the historic Grand Staircase and construct an ADA-compliant plaza at W. 184th Street and Laurel Hill Terrace. The project will also improve safety and security with new park lighting, and construct a welcome garden at the Dyckman Street and Harlem River Drive entrance to the park.
Phase II: This project will reconstruct Adventure Playground, creating a play-based active recreation playground featuring a spray shower, game tables, garden area and new comfort station. The project will also include adult fitness equipment at Sunken Playground.
Betsy Head Park, Brooklyn
Phase I: This project will completely re-envision and reconstruct the multi-purpose play area, basketball courts, active fitness area, and new skate park.
Phase II: This project will reconstruct the southern portion of the park, including a large field, sports courts, seating areas, and reconstruction of the comfort station.
Freshkills Park, Staten Island
This project will create multiple athletic fields, paths and trails, parking and a comfort station that will continue the development of South Park and the greater Freshkills Parkland.