Parks commissioner Adrian Benepe was joined on Saturday, June 28 by Senator Jeff Klein, Councilman Jimmy Vacca, Community Board 10’s district manager Kenneth Kearns and chair Virginia Gallagher, Catherine Ambrosini, vice-president of City Island Little League Larry Saulnier, and City Island Little League youth in a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The $1.8 million project, which includes nautical themed playground equipment to match the island community, is part of a $220 million investment in Bronx parks financed by mitigation funds from the construction of the Croton Water Filtration Plant through the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and Municipal Water Finance Authority.
The reconstruction includes new play equipment, swings, spray shower, and an adult exercise unit. The two existing baseball fields were reconstructed with new backstops, natural turf fields, bleacher seating and an irrigation system. Other elements in the park include new drinking fountains, fencing, picnic tables, benches, plantings, and pavement.
“Thanks to almost $2 million in DEP Croton Mitigation Funds, Bronx residents have new play equipment and new opportunities to play ball,” said Benepe. “The new fields will allow more teams to play and the playground is another great place for kids to have fun this summer.”
The field honors Anthony Ambrosini, an inspirational coach and prominent member of the City Island community. Ambrosini grew up on Prospect Avenue in the Bronx neighborhood of Belmont and moved to City Island in 1956 with his wife and daughter.
“Ambro,” as he was commonly known, coached baseball, football, and basketball teams at City Island Little League and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, trained both the Apache Little League baseball team and the adult softball team, formed the City Island Giants football club, and coached basketball at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Church.
Upon retiring in 1992 from his printing job, he devoted himself to coaching on a full time basis, before passing away in 1994.
“When I was district manager, we were involved in the design of the playground. I think this was money well spent,” said Vacca. “The borough president and I have also allocated money that will replace another early childhood playground located directly behind P.S. 175 during the summer.”