$6.6 million renovated historic Saw Mill Playground reopens

$6.6 million renovated historic Saw Mill Playground reopens
Photo by Daniel Avila/NYC Parks

A popular Mott Haven playground has reopened just in time for summer.

On Friday, June 7, Bronx Parks Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa and NYC Department of Environmental Protection Bronx Borough coordinator Effie Ardizzone joined students and administrators from P.S. 369, P.S. 352 and P.S. 179 and residents for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly renovated Saw Mill Playground.

The Community Parks Initiative project was made possible through $6.6 million from Mayor de Blasio and $1.4 million allocated from DEP for green infrastructure to help improve the Harlem River’s health.

The 0.92-acre playground features revamped basketball courts, new play equipment, youth fitness equipment, a synthetic turf field, multi-purpose area and spray showers.

The newly constructed comfort station is anticipated to open this fall, according to NYC Parks.

“With the new amenities and features, we are confident it will be a community hub,” expressed Rodriguez-Rosa.

To commemorate the momentous occasion, Rodriguez-Rosa and others joined local youth on the swings and played a bean bag toss game at the playground.

Saw Mill Playground is outfitted with green infrastructure to manage stormwater runoff which is able to capture 1.3 million gallons of stormwater annually.

DEP has committed approximately $50 million in funding for green infrastructure installations at CPI sites throughout the city, helping to reduce sewer overflows that sometimes occur during heavy rainfall, improve air quality and lower summertime temperatures.

“We are always looking for ways in which we can reduce the stormwater that enters our sewer system and we were able to do just that with this project at Saw Mill Playground,” stated DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza.

The playground’s reconstruction commenced on July 24, 2017 following a groundbreaking ceremony.

Saw Mill Playground’s namesake is derived from the Saw Mill Creek, also known as the ‘Mill Brook,’ which once flowed near the park.

The creek originated in Gates Place in the north Bronx, ran along what is now Brook and Webster avenues and emptied into the Bronx Kill.

Sawmills flourished along many tributaries of Bronx waterways for over two centuries.

The earliest sawmill, devised in 1352 in Europe, depended on water as a power source and a means of transporting goods.

Logs were floated downriver to sawmills which cut raw lumber into standarized shapes and sizes for building purposes.

Another byproduct of the sawing process was wood pulp which is how paper is made.

Due to the abundance of lumber and waterpower in the Hudson River Valley, sawmills became a popular and lucrative industry for 17th century European settlers.

In the 1850s, Jordan L. Mott purchased 200 acres of lower Morrisania and named the area after himself.

Parks acquired the site for Saw Mill Playground in October 1964.

Parks and the NYC Department of Education agreed to jointly operate the playground.

Saw Mill Playground was officially opened to the public on October 11, 1974.