FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2004
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG AND STATEN ISLAND BOROUGH PRESIDENT JAMES P. MOLINARO OPEN GREENBELT NATURE CENTER
$4.4 Million Nature Center Welcomes Visitors to 2,800-acre Greenbelt
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro and Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe today celebrated the completion on the Greenbelt Nature Center. The new center will serve as a state-of-the-art visitor and orientation facility for the Greenbelt, a 2,800-acre collection of parks and natural areas in Staten Island. The $4.4 million facility will open to the public on Tuesday, June 29. Adena Long, Greenbelt Administrator and Executive Director of the Greenbelt Conservancy joined the Mayor at the announcement.
“I am proud to help contribute another jewel to Staten Island’s recreational crown,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “This innovative research center will be a fitting gateway to one of New York’s most beautiful natural areas – the Staten Island Greenbelt. Tremendous credit is due to Borough President Molinaro, Commissioner Benepe and the Staten Island Councilmembers.”
“I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Benepe for continuing the exciting progress on the Greenbelt Master Plan,” said Borough President Molinaro. “The new Nature Center will give Staten Islanders and visitors from around the world an introduction to our Borough’s largest park in a grand and educational way. Projects like these reinforce Staten Island’s image as ‘The Borough of Parks,’ where 25 percent of our total land area is protected parkland.”
“The Greenbelt is the Yosemite Park of New York City,” said Commissioner Benepe. “The new Nature Center is a passport into our Staten Island wilderness, providing an introduction and point of entry into 113 miles of trails.”
“With the opening of this splendid facility we put the Fresh Kill-era perception and image of Staten Island deeper into our rear view mirror,” said Minority Leader Oddo. “Kudos to Borough President Molinaro and the Mayor for making this possible and for helping to craft the new reality of what this community is about.”
The Greenbelt Nature Center will be a gateway for visitors exploring the Greenbelt. The Frank Lloyd Wright-style building is 5,440 square feet and was designed by Medhat Salaam Associates. Complementing the site’s natural attributes, the building is salmon-colored with natural slate and copper roofs of varying heights. There will be programming for families, adults, and seniors that will focus on natural history and ecology of the region as well as health and fitness opportunities and arts programs. The building’s interior includes an events room, administrative offices, kitchen, public bathrooms, and a reception/front desk area.
The facility will house the Richmond County Savings Bank Foundation Exhibits on urban ecology, wildlife, conservation, native plants, and geology. In May 2003, the Foundation awarded the Greenbelt Conservancy a $500,000 grant. DMCD Inc., a Manhattan-based exhibit design firm, has created and installed the state-of-the-art interactive exhibits.
An extraordinary natural resource, the Greenbelt is visited by millions of people annually. It consists of both private and public land, including Willowbrook Park and High Rock Park. There are many recreational activities offered within the Greenbelt, including golf, hiking, baseball, archery, and bird watching. The Greenbelt Conservancy is a not-for-profit founded in 1989 that works in partnership with Parks & Recreation to support the operation, administration, and public use of the Greenbelt’s city parkland. The Conservancy will operate and maintain the Center along with Parks & Recreation.
Edward Skyler/ Jordan Barowitz (212) 788-2958
Megan Sheekey (Parks)
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