Bayview Terrace Park

Bayview Terrace Park

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This park, whose garden overlooks the beach, was once bound by Boardwalk Avenue. Though the seaside road remains on maps, in reality, it has washed away. The watery vista and 17-foot drop to the beach below clearly show the origins of Bayview Terrace’s name. The park itself extends out through the beach and into the water. Nearly 90 percent of the parkland lies under the water.

In 1991, Bayview Terrace Park was nothing more than an empty City-owned lot, littered with trash. Through the efforts of local residents, the block was transformed, in a very few years, into a thriving and varied garden, a refuge for humans and animals as well. A mix of wild and carefully cultivated areas was created in an effort to attract a large variety of animal and insect species and to avoid an over-planned, rigid appearance. A “natural area” adjoining the garden has been left entirely to its own devices. Garden features include a clay-bottomed pond that drains naturally, a butterfly garden, a side wilderness, vegetable beds, rabbit hutches, and birdhouses.

In the beginning, Bayview’s creators leased the lot directly from the City. Daunted by rising rents, the gardeners solicited the assistance of Community Board 3 in an attempt to transfer the site to Parks. The project attracted the interest of the Greenbelt Conservancy and Protectors of Pin Oak Woods. With their support, and that of GreenThumb, the city organization that oversees community gardens, the land was assigned to Parks on January 16, 1997. As in the case of many similar protective community garden acquisitions, the organization and maintenance of the property remains in the hands of the volunteer gardeners.

This park, located on Bayview Terrace between Barclay and Harold Avenues in the Staten Island neighborhood of Arden, is dedicated to natural methods of cultivation. No chemicals are used within the garden, composting and successive planting ensure the continued health of the soil, and the wilderness strip attracts hordes of pollinators to all the plantings. Perennial herbs such as basil (ocimum), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), are planted in the butterfly garden. More than 30 species of butterfly visit the garden, and many of these use the herbs to lay their eggs. Out on the beach and in the water, Canadian geese (Branta canadensis), egrets (Casmerodius albus), and harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) are frequent visitors.

Some of the most distinctive residents of the garden are the purple martins (Progne subis), which flock to the special houses put out for their use. These brightly colored birds, which usually live in open woodlands, are the largest in the swallow family. One of the only other purple martin colonies on Staten Island can be found in Lemon Creek Park. The first martin house, a typical green and white birdhouse, was installed in 1991, but the birds have consistently preferred to nest in large hanging gourds, which now house the majority of the colony. Tree swallows (Iridoprocne bicolor) and muskrats (Ondatra zibethica) also visit the garden, stealing cattail reeds (Typha latifolia) for their nests.

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