Seabury Park (Mid-Bronx Desperadoes Park)
Although officially named Seabury Park, this park is also known as Mid-Bronx Desperadoes Park, in recognition of the non-profit group that was instrumental in its development, and People's Park, in recognition of the community effort that helped make the park possible. The park’s official name honors Dr. Samuel Seabury III (1710–1796), rector of St. Peter’s Protestant Episcopalian Church at Westchester Square and the namesake of the surrounding neighborhood. Dr. Seabury was born in Groton, Connecticut, in 1729, graduated from Yale University in 1748, and was consecrated a Bishop in Scotland in 1784. Dr. Seabury was the first Protestant Episcopalian priest ordained in the diocese of Connecticut.
Mid-Bronx Desperadoes (MBD) is a non-profit community development organization that takes an active role in Bronx housing, education, and outreach issues. The organization has been a driving force behind this park’s inception and operation since 1994, when members of MBD met with the Seabury community. The groups discussed the renovation of an 8,000-square foot vacant lot on Southern Boulevard between East 173rd and 174th Streets that had been abandoned for nearly 15 years. Community members agreed that the land would make an ideal neighborhood park and enlisted the help of Operation GreenThumb, a program that leases city-owned vacant land to neighborhood groups and provides them with gardening and maintenance materials.
The Mid-Bronx Desperadoes (MBD) and neighborhood residents worked together to transform this L-shaped lot into a community park. To fund the project, the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC), a privately funded citizens’ organization in the mayor’s office, secured $50,000 grants from the Levitt Foundation and the Lewis & Anne Abrons Foundation. Community members, including seven summer youth workers, rapidly transformed the land into a vibrant community space. On April 4, 1997, the lot was permanently designated a park under the jurisdiction of Parks, and on October 29, 1997, community members proudly celebrated the opening of Seabury/Mid-Bronx Desperadoes Park.
The park’s landscape was designed by members of Operation GreenThumb. A crushed bluestone pathway leads to a central wooden gazebo, and the park’s vegetation includes magnolia trees, inkberry hedges, and daylilies. A mural of a countryside with lakes and distant hills, painted by local artist Anthony Marte, covers the entire south wall. Included in the mural are portraits of members of MBD and CENYC, as well as youth workers who helped clean the site.
The park features a playhouse for toddlers and children. The basketball court is a popular attraction for ballplayers, and the picnic and barbecue areas are used for family and social gatherings. The park is also used during the summer months for environmental workshops, and local gardeners help maintain the plants and flowers. The collaboration of citizens and community organizations, including Parks, the Mid-Bronx Desperadoes, Operation GreenThumb, and the Council for the Environment of New York City, has helped make this park a Bronx success story.