$5mil facelift for Clemente

Roberto Clemente State Park is getting a $5 million facelift.

Gov. Cuomo announced the investment from the NY Works initiative to fund improvements to the 26-acre waterfront park, which already includes a multi-purpose recreation building, an Olympic-size pool complex, ball fields, basketball courts, picnic areas, playgrounds and a waterfront promenade.

The new funding complements grants from community partners to develop a new playground and baseball field, and commemorates the Park’s 40th anniversary.

“Roberto Clemente has been a Bronx treasure for decades,” said Cuomo, “and these improvements will serve to enhance its landscape and utility for years to come.”

A highlight of the celebration included the opening of new $1.2 million playground installed in the park’s Lower Plaza.

The playground design incorporates distinct play areas for children 2-5 and 5-12. Highlights include a user-activated spray feature to cool patrons in the summer; a range of climbers, spinners, slides and overhead ladders; and integrated shade and benches to keep the playground safe and comfortable for both children and adults. The playground is funded through NY Works and a $75,000 grant through the MetLife Foundation.

The new playground will be the centerpiece of the revitalization of the park’s Lower Plaza.

Officials also broke ground this month on the next phase of revitalization — the renovation of the Roberto Clemente baseball field.

With assistance of a $100,000 grant from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, a joint initiative of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, State Parks will perform a significant renovation of the field, improving both aesthetics and infrastructure for better drainage, irrigation and player safety.

Already one of the few fields with night lighting, the project will create a modernized ball diamond to help develop more programs to teach kids to play ball, and to continue efforts to establish a baseball league for children 6-11.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who provided $500,000 in funding from his capital budget to help renovate the lower plaza, said “This park honors a man who was not only a great baseball player but a great humanitarian as well, and this park’s renovation is an excellent way to pay tribute to the legacy of Roberto Clemente.”

Originally named Harlem River Park, Roberto Clemente opened in 1973 following a project to transform a neglected stretch of the Harlem River into much-needed recreational space for Bronx residents.

Visited by more than 1 million people a year, it was the first State Park in New York City. The park was later renamed after Clemente who was the first Hispanic player and Puerto Rican inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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