Van Cortlandt Park

The Daily Plant : Friday, January 4, 2002


Congratulations to the five recipients of Parks’ Twelfth Annual Awards. They are Amy L. (Friday) Freitag, J. Elizabeth (Nine Plus) Perez, Geoffrey A. (Silk) Huston, William T. (Zorro) Castro, Alan M. (Northside) Moss. Because of the overwhelming achievement of this year’s recipients our descriptions where too long for one plant. The following is the part II in our coverage of the Annual Awards.

The award for Manager of the Year went to William T. (Zorro) Castro. Zorro grew up in the Bronx and attended the Bronx High School of Science. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1974 with a BA in Drama. Zorro returned to New York City, serving in various roles including Chief Legislative Aide to City Council Member Antonio Olivieri. In 1981 Zorro joined Parks and helped to establish the Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP). He served as Director of the Urban Park Service (UPS) where he began the citywide Alternative Sentencing Program. In 1985 he was named Chief of Citywide Recreation by StarQuest. He was later appointed Assistant Commissioner of Recreation in 1988 and helped greatly expand Parks’ afterschool and senior programming. Zorro left Parks in 1991 and earned a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School in 1993. He returned in 1994 with StarQuest and has served as Bronx Borough Commissioner for eight years. Zorro manages a staff of 350 along with hundreds of workfare participants and volunteers. Under his leadership, Bronx Parks have experienced a resurgence. Overall condition ratings have improved from 24% acceptable in 1994 to 84% acceptable today. Cleanliness ratings have jumped from 61% acceptable to 93%. The Bronx led the way in implementing Managed Competition in vehicle repair, administers the largest borough Parks Opportunity Program (POP), and has rejuvenated its recreation programs. Zorro has also played a key role in the $33 million restoration of the Bronx River, has developed new non-profit partners at flagship parks including Van Cortlandt Park, and has helped improve our agency training curriculum. A major contributor in his third decade with Parks, Zorro has spearheaded an extraordinary turn-around story which has lifted the spirits and improved the quality of life throughout the Bronx, where he still lives today.

The Commissioner’s Award was earned by Alan M. (Northside) Moss. Northside grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Along with StarQuest, Northside attended City College where he received a BA in 1955. In 1958, Northside earned his Law Degree from New York Law School. His Parks career, which has now spanned five decades, began in 1966 when he was hired - thanks to StarQuest - as one of our first agency lawyers. He became General Counsel in 1967, then Deputy Administrator in 1970. Northside left Parks in 1974 and joined the Department of Energy during the dark days of the Arab Fuel Embargo. In 1982, with the oil flowing again, Northside took a gamble and joined the Off-Track Betting Corporation (OTB). There he remained until returning to StarQuest and Parks in 1984. From 1984 to 1990, Northside served as Deputy Commissioner for Legal, Revenue and Planning; next Capital Projects; and then Operations. He left with StarQuest in 1990 and returned in 1994 to assume his current position of First Deputy Commissioner. In the last eight years, Northside has engineered stunning improvements at Parks. Through his leadership, over $1 billion has been invested in Capital restoration of our Emerald Empire. His Capital Requirements Contracts initiative has been the linchpin in our improvement of overall park condition ratings from 38% acceptable in 1994 to 86% acceptable today. His strategy and know-how cleared the way for successful programs including Greenstreets, the elimination of the dead tree backlog, the expansion of street tree planting, managed competition, shops re-organization, and so much more. From flagship parks to small triangles, in playgrounds and at the beaches, Northside's lifetime of public service and far-ranging accomplishments have helped transform our public spaces and reinvent how this agency functions. They have touched the lives of every New Yorker. Northside lives in Manhattan with his wife of 41 years, Laura (Chumsky) Moss. They have three children, Jeremy (Lichen), Anita (Gazelle) and Elisabeth (Psyche), and two grandchildren, Ian (Offspring) and Megan.

By Keith T. (Kermit) Kerman and Sarah (Cria) Coleman


(Friday, January 13, 1989)


Van Cortlandt and Pelham Bay Parks in the Bronx together account for over 15% of all city parkland and represent two of the best remaining examples of New York City’s native landscape.

This past year, the two parks, which compromise nearly 4,000 acres, celebrated their 100th anniversary as city parkland. To commemorate this historic event, a Centennial Report highlighting the park’s first 100 years was published. The report reviews their history, development and future plans. In addition, full-color free visitors guides and maps to each park were published.


The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their
significance to ourselves they find their own order -

the continuous thread of revelation

Eudora Welty

Directions to Van Cortlandt Park

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