Blue Heron Park

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, March 24, 2004


Six times a year, Partnerships for Parks, a joint program of Parks & Recreation and City Parks Foundation(CPF), organizes an award luncheon hosted by Commissioner Adrian Benepe and CPF Executive Director David Rivel. The event honors one park organization or individual from each borough who has made a demonstrable difference in New York City’s parks and recognizes a Parks & Recreation employee who works closely with local volunteers. The luncheon also offers volunteers the chance to exchange ideas and accomplishments with each other, to meet with Commissioner Benepe and David Rivel, to set forth volunteer goals, and to share advice in an intimate setting. This month's luncheon, held on March 18, honored the Friends of Blue Heron Park, the Central Park Medical Unit, the Cornucopia Society, and the Friends of Pelham Bay Park. Parks & Recreation and the Friends of Pelham Bay Park also nominated LeRoy Temple, Park Manager of Bay Park, for an award.

The roots of the Friends of Blue Heron Park began to grow nearly forty years ago, when a group of citizens joined forces to halt the destruction of a 26-acre wetland now know as Blue Heron Park. Today, Blue Heron Park has 222 acres, a Nature Center, and an active partner organization. Thanks to its successful fund-raising, the Friends can offer free, fun, and educational programs to the public, including the annual Scarecrow and Holiday Festivals and the Kids & Kritters and Natural Science Clubs.

Like the Friends of Blue Heron Park, the Central Park Medical Unit has a long history – almost 30 years – of working for the community. In 1975, a group of park users grew concerned that New York City ambulance crews lacked knowledge of Central Park’s geography, resulting in dangerously-long waits for emergency vehicles. To remedy the problem, the "Central Park Medical Rescue Squad" was formed, a first response unit that consisted of 20 volunteers, a few personal bicycles, and a retrofitted van. In 1979, the rescue squad incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation and was renamed the "Central Park Medical Unit." It now has a staff of 100 volunteers, two ambulances, six bicycles, and the Wollman Rink first aid station. Every weekend the Unit provides expert care to Central Park visitors, with one of the fastest response times in New York State.

The Cornucopia Society, both a food pantry and park volunteer group, was created in 1997 to provide improved services and programs to the community of Rosedale, Queens, with a particular focus on Veterans Square Park, Laurelton Playground, Twin Ponds, Brookeville Park, and Idlewild Park. The group is an active participant in citywide volunteer days, such as "It’s My Park!" Day and the Daffodil Project. On any given afternoon, you can find members of the group volunteering in a New York City park.

The Friends of Pelham Bay Park was officially formed in 1992 and meets every month to plan events, fundraising efforts, and special projects. Their most prominent event is Earth Fest, which includes planting and cleaning projects, environmental exhibitions, children’s performances, and arts & crafts workshops. The group has successfully raised funds to hire a full-time Youth Program Coordinator, Maria Karpfinger, to conduct extensive outreach to the schools near the park. They have also contributed to the building of the Bronx Victory Column, the refurbishment of the American Boy Statue, and the creation of the handicapped accessible Playground for All Children.

The Friends of Pelham Bay Park nominated Parkie LeRoy Temple to be honored at the Partnerships Award Luncheon; Bronx Borough Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski seconded the nomination, saying "LeRoy is an ace." LeRoy began his career at Parks & Recreation as a City Seasonal Aide in 1981, and in 1985, he was hired full-time at Astoria Pool. In May of 2003, LeRoy was promoted to Parks & Recreation Manager for districts 2, 10, 15 and 15a, which includes Pelham Bay Park and Orchard Beach. The Friends of Pelham Bay Park nominated LeRoy because of his strong work ethic, his accessibility to park patrons, and his consistent enforcement of Parks & Recreation rules.

Commenting on the importance of park volunteers, Director of Partnerships for Parks Jenny Hoffner said, "Volunteers and stewardship groups dedicate their free time to making their parks integral, lively parts of their neighborhoods. These groups are truly committed and stellar – they are an example for us all."

For more information on these and other Partnerships Award Luncheon recipients, visit


'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Lewis Carroll
"Jabberwocky," from Through the
Looking-Glass and What
Alice Found There
, 1872

Directions to Blue Heron Park

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