$1.8 million renovated historic Walton Playground reopens

(l-r) Councilman Cabrera; Bronx Parks Commissioner Rodriguez-Rosa; Ms. Medina, Davidson Community Center; Assemblyman Pichardo; Dr. Bola Omotosho, CB 5 chairman and Ken Brown, CB 5 district manager were eager to cut the ribbon for Walton Playground.
Photo by Fernando Justiniano

Bronx Parks Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, Councilman Fernando Cabrera, Assemblyman Victor Pichardo, Community Board 5 members and P.S. 279 students and staff and residents joined in cutting the ribbon on the fully renovated Walton Playground, a Community Parks Initiative site, on Thursday, May 9.

The 0.34-acre playground’s revitalization was made possible through funding with $1.4 million coming from the mayor and $400,000 from Cabrera.

The reconstruction added new equipment, water play features, a half-court basketball court and seating areas to the children’s play area.

The new park design incorporates such sustainable features as permeable surfacing, improved drainage systems to capture stormwater and decrease runoff, new tree plantings to increase shade and improve air quality, water play features that are controller-operated to minimize water waste and new lighting with energy efficient lamps.

“This summer when kids are splashing and laughing as they play in the sprinklers, we’ll be able to bask in the joy of knowing we’re improving our communities one park at a time,” expressed Rodriguez-Rosa.

To commemorate the momentous occasion, Cabrera, Rodriguez-Rosa, CB 5 chairman Dr. Bola Omotosho joined local youth in shooting some hoops at the playground’s half-court basketball court.

“Walton Playground is now a beautiful inclusive green space for gathering, recreation and exercise for everyone to enjoy – kids, seniors, young adults, families- regardless of physical abilities, and with ADA accessible entrances,” stated Cabrera.

Walton Playground’s extensive makeover was inspired by residents’ input of what they specifically wanted to see added to the playground, according to Cabrera.

“It is important that we invest in community spaces such as Walton Park to ensure children can have a safe and fun space to go to enjoy their summer,” said Pichardo.

The park’s reconstruction commenced on May 10, 2018 following a groundbreaking ceremony.

Prior to its renovation, the park had been forgotten for nearly 20 years, according to Parks.

Walton Park is one of 17 parks in the borough listed for renovation as part of the mayor’s Community Parks Initiative.

The park’s namesake is Mary Walton, who lived from 1726 to 1794, and married Lewis Morris III who was the sole New York signer of the Declaration of Independence.

The couple had ten children and resided in Morrisania.

Their son, Captain William Walton Morris, who lived from 1760 to 1832, served as aide-de-camp to general Anthony Wayne in the Revolutionary War.

It is commonly believed that the adjacent Walton Avenue is named in honor of Gerard Walton Morris, a landowner and descendant of Mary and Lewis.

Parks acquired the property for Walton Park, located along East 181st Street between Jerome and Walton avenues, on November 24, 1897.

The park was originally known as ‘Walton Avenue AA Park’ until the late NYC Commissioner Henry Stern shortened its name.

(back, l-r) Cabrera, Rodriguez-Rosa, Pichardo, Dr. Omotosho and P.S. 279 students celebrated the playground’s grand reopening.
Photo by Fernando Justiniano

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