Today’s news:

Upgrades for four Bx parks

Four Bronx parks were rededicated as Croton Water Filtration mitigation money, over $200 million worth, continues to flow through the borough.

On Thursday, August 14 more than $14 million in renovations to Story Playground on Story Avenue, between Theriot and Taylor avenues; Soundview Park, between Metcalf and Story avenues; Aqueduct Lands Playground, at W. 181 Street and Aqueduct Avenue East; and Devoe Park, at West Fordham Road and Fr. Zeiser Place, were dedicated with four separate ribbon cuttings.

New play equipment, spray showers, color-seal basketball courts, seating, fencing and landscaping are just some of the improvements made to the quarter of play facilities, and are considered just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the biggest improvements to Bronx parks since the days of Robert Moses, Fiorello LaGuardia, and the W.P.A. in the 1930s, according to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.

“Essentially, this allows us to create a renaissance for Bronx parks, something that probably would not have been done in 10, 15, or even 20 years,” he said, as he made his way from one ceremony to the next. 

Benepe thanked elected officials and community leaders who supported the filtration project as it was approved at different levels of government, based all on the promise of money from the Department of Environmental Protection to benefit Bronx parks. 

The improvements to the parks mitigate the temporary and permanent alienation of Bronx parkland caused by the construction of the huge filtration plant under the Mosholu Golf Course in Van Cortlandt Park, a project that caused controversy in surrounding communities about quality of life issues.

When the Croton Filtration Plant project is completed, it will handle 30% of all the water New York City residents’ need.

 “The elected officials in the city council and state legislature had the courage to vote for this project,” Benepe continued. “Jose Rivera absolutely lead this effort, and that is why I am glad he is here today. Mayor Bloomberg is the best Parks mayor the city has ever had, and I am including Fiorello LaGuardia.”

Present for various openings were first deputy mayor Patricia Harris, Senator Efrain Gonzalez, Assemblymen Luis Diaz and Ruben Diaz Jr., and Councilwomen Maria Baez and Annabel Palma.

“We build this park for youngsters – for parents to bring their children here,” Assemblyman Jose Rivera noted at Devoe Park. “We are not going to allow anyone to abuse or destroy it.”

Many pointed out that the parks serve as a vital resource to the future of our city. 

“I think that the best thing we can do is to use parks to put smiles on the faces of children,” said Community Board 7 district manager Fernando Tirado, at the Devoe Park ribbon cutting. “We will work together to make sure this park is safe and clean.”

To date, DPR has completed 21 Croton projects, totaling more than $34 million in improvements, and 20 more projects totaling more than $62 million are in construction. There are also an additional 34 projects in the design phase totaling more than $99 million. DPR expects work on all Bronx projects related to the Croton mitigation funds to be started by 2009.

“The ribbons we cut today represents a sample of the great work happening all across the borough and a promise kept to residents of the Bronx,” Benepe explained.

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