FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2005
MAYOR BLOOMBERG BREAKS GROUND AT ST. JAMES PARK
First of More than 70 Bronx Parks Reconstruction Projects Funded with $220 Million Generated from Water Revenue
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was today joined by Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Emily Lloyd and Assembly Member Jose Rivera to break ground on the renovation of St. James Park. The project is the first of more than 70 Bronx parks reconstruction projects related to the construction of the Croton Water Filtration Facility that will be completed over the next five years. The projects will be funded with $220 million from DEP and the Municipal Water Finance Authority. The $3.8 million renovation of St. James Park will dramatically improve the park with new staircases, wall reinforcements, landscaping and pathways.
"Today, we kick off the largest investment in Bronx parkland since the 1930s," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The renovation of St. James Park marks the first of 70 projects that will improve parks and recreational areas and the quality of life in communities throughout the borough. Five years from now, we will have created a historic green legacy that millions of New Yorkers will enjoy for generations to come. I would like to thank Governor Pataki, the City Council and State Assembly and our partners in the community for their support on this important project."
"Today's groundbreaking is the beginning of an historic transformation for Bronx parks," said Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "The parks we will renovate over the next five years will have a lasting impact on communities throughout the Bronx for generations to come."
"The City's great water supply and City Parks have an historic enduring partnership," said Commissioner Emily Lloyd. "Today's ceremony marks another milestone in improving our environmental legacy."
Phase I of the renovation of St. James Park will cost $750,000 and include restoration of four staircases surrounding the park. The eastern corner staircases at 191st and 193rd and Creston Avenue will be restored with new bluestone pavement and restored hand railings. Two additional staircases at Morris Avenue and 191st and 193rd and Jerome Avenue will be completed transforming the entrances to St. James Park. New concrete staircase supports and backing walls will be poured for installation of the reset and new stones. To complete the entrances, Parks & Recreation will also restore lighting, and asphalt pavement lawn areas adjacent to the asphalt pavements will be reconstructed.
Phase II of the project, which is scheduled to begin in 2006, will build on Phase I and restore the historic elegance of the park by addressing all significant landscape features. The $3 million restoration of the historic landscape will include reconstruction of pathways, perimeter retaining wall and fencing surrounding the park, plantings, lawns and benches. The decorative stone walls will be reinforced and loose or missing sections replaced. The horticultural character of the site will be enhanced by the restoration of understory plantings, including shrubs and small flowering trees. Interior pathways will be rebuilt to improve circulation and eliminate drainage problems. Phase II will also look to address the lack of open space available for multi-purpose recreational activities by creating a small multi-use turf field area.
This spring, Parks & Recreation will break ground on four additional projects totaling nearly $8 million. The four projects include extensive landscaping and greening at Grant Park; new basketball and handball courts at Drew Playground; and landscaping, fencing and a new parking lot at Pelham Bay Park. The remaining projects will be phased in throughout the coming months and years. Parks & Recreation plans to substantially complete all projects by 2010.
Last September, the City Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding with New York State allowing the City to move forward with the construction of a water filtration plant under the Mosholu Golf Course in Van Cortlandt Park. As part of the agreement, more than $220 million generated from water and sewer revenue will be spent on improvements to Bronx Parks over the next five years. The projects fall into five categories and include improving neighborhood parks, renovating regional recreation facilities, developing the Bronx Greenway, improving and expanding access to the Bronx waterfront, building and "greening" the borough.
The Bronx parks projects were identified after years of input from the community, and were finalized with the help of community groups, elected officials and Bronx residents. Collaboratively, the Parks Department focused on projects that would be a challenge to fund through the capital budget.
Edward Skyler/Robert Lawson (212) 788-2958
Warner Johnston (Parks & Recreation)
Charles Sturcken (Environmental Protection)
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