Highbridge Park

The Daily Plant : Monday, November 3, 2003


What if you and your neighbors could re-design your community park? How would your park change? Would there be more bicycle paths? Greater waterfront access? More swings in the playground? What kind of events would you hold in your park? These are the questions Partnerships for Parks is allowing communities all over New York City to ask and answer, in a new four-year initiative that rewards volunteer activism and interest in parks by combining community outreach with funding from both public and private sources. The sixteen parks selected for this innovative program were announced by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Thursday, October 30 at a press conference in Queens’ Rainey Park. The Mayor was joined by Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, City Parks Foundation Executive Director, David Rivel, Council Member Joseph Addabbo, as well as representatives from some of the project’s major funders and community partners.

The sixteen parks are located in Astoria and the Long Island City waterfront in Queens; Harlem in Manhattan; Highbridge in Manhattan and Bronx; and Red Hook in Brooklyn. These four neighborhoods, selected in part for their potential for improvement, will receive $5 million in private funds raised by the City Parks Foundation (CPF), and will benefit from an anticipated $20 million in capital projects that are either already funded by local and federal sources or expect funding over the course of the four-year project. In addition, Partnerships for Parks is expecting to leverage additional private funding. The new monies will be used for new programming, to hire additional staff in each region, and to fund capital improvements. Projects will vary from park to park depending upon the needs and the desires of the communities that surround each park.

In the Queens parks, which include Astoria and Long Island City DeMarco, Hallets Cove, Hellgate, Queensbridge, Socrates, and Rainey parks, funding will be used to improve existing recreational facilities and increase waterfront access. In Astoria Park, funds have already been secured for an erosion control project, as well as for a capital project that will reconstruct the drainage for seven tennis courts in the park. Ultimately, Parks & Recreation would like to work with the community to develop a plan for a continuous waterfront greenway that would link all seven parks.

A similar waterfront expansion program will occur in Brooklyn’s Red Hook region, which includes Red Hook Park and Recreation Center, Coffey Park, and Valentino Pier. Funding from the federal government and Borough President’s Office is already in place to provide bicycle and pedestrian enhancements to Valentino Park, including connections to the proposed Brooklyn Waterfront Trail.

In Manhattan, funding has been earmarked for Jackie Robinson, Marcus Garvey, Morningside and St. Nicholas Parks, four historic parks that have shown recent revitalization, due to increased community involvement. At Jackie Robinson Park, the City has just started a $700,000 project to renovate the recreation center and pool. Other funding will be used to support the nascent Historic Harlem Parks Coalition, and possibly, to reconstruct Marcus Garvey’s park amphitheater. Marcus Garvey Park has already benefited from the City Parks Foundation’s attention; it was the site of a Partnerships for Parks pilot program which spurred the development of the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance and brought new cultural programming, including high profile events such as the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, now produced by City Parks Foundation.

Manhattan will also benefit from upcoming projects at Highbridge Park in both boroughs. New funding will be used to explore re-opening the High Bridge, which was once a functioning pedestrian bridge that connected parks in the Bronx and Manhattan. The City is already completing a $700,000 project to improve paths in Manhattan’s Highbridge Park, and is investing additional funds in parks on either side of the High Bridge. As part of this new initiative, Partnerships for Parks will also work to cultivate a coalition of groups interested in restoring the High Bridge and Highbridge parks.

Over the course of the next four years, City Parks Foundation will spend $5 million on cultural and recreational programming in each area. This will include concerts in Jackie Robinson, Marcus Garvey and Highbridge Parks; track and field instruction in Astoria and Red Hook Parks; puppet shows, readings and performing arts for kids in the Historic Harlem Parks; golf instruction in Queensbridge Park. The $5 million will also support dedicated staff for each of the four regions, to help with community organizing and technical assistance for parks volunteers and groups.


"Facts are stubborn things."

Alain René Lesage


Directions to Highbridge Park


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