Resting on the western bank of the waterway in the south Bronx, Edgewater Concrete Plant was a functioning cement manufacturing facility until it closed in 1987, leaving the property in Crotona Park East to fall by the wayside.
Now, through a partnership with community and public agency partners, the Parks Department and Bronx River Alliance are in the second phase of reestablishing the area’s elements into a naturalistic attraction for the borough’s outdoor adventurers.
“It’s a great story of victory for acquiring parks in the Bronx,” Maggie Greenfield, greenway director for Bronx River Alliance, said about the park’s restoration efforts that began in the summer of 2005.
Upon demolition of the concrete plant, crews discovered 12 underground storage tanks that were leaking diesel fuel.
To say the least, “There was a lot of cleanup that was done,” Greenfield said about the additional time, effort and money that supported remediation of the surprise find.
“The City was really great in stepping up and gathering additional resources for the added cleanup of the park,” she said.
After the yearlong demo effort, crews began to beautify the space.
“It’s going to be night and day from when it was an operating concrete plant,” Greenfield explained.
Maintaining half of the existing structures as relics of the site’s industrial history, Concrete Plant Park will offer a 2.7-acre waterfront space to the already established seven-acre section of the Bronx River Greenway.
Adorned by benches, a promenade along the water and various game tables for afternoon entertainment, Greenway said the community designed the site as an area of relaxation for neighborhood residents to drift into the serenity of nature.
Also, if they so choose, boating enthusiasts will be able to drift to sea from the newly constructed canoe launches.
Working toward better environmental conservation, the Bronx River Alliance’s Bronx River Conservation crew is also in the process of reintroducing Spartina, a salt marsh grass that serves as an excellent habitat for area fish, in the waters off the park’s shore.
Though Concrete Plant Park is a large-scale renovation project, Greenfield said there’s no slowing down.
“The goal is to create eight miles of linear parks along the Bronx River,” she said.
As for their current undertaking, Greenway said it’s expected to be finished by the end of the year.