A $1.5 million dollar renovation of a concrete area that serves as a vital east Bronx transit hub is now underway.
Beautification of Amendola Plaza in Pelham Bay, next to the Pelham Bay Park stop on the IRT #6 line and a key transportation hub for buses, will receive plantings including new trees at three locations in what is now a barren-like traffic island.
The project will also include four-foot-tall steel-picket fencing that will border the three greenspaces, which will be located away from bus stops in the center of the plaza, as well as granite curbs around the plant beds, according to a NYC Parks Department document.
Councilman James Vacca said he secured funding for the project over a two-year period in successive city budgets.
The capital funds are now being put to use by the Parks Department after about three years of planning, he added.
“I always viewed Amendola Plaza as the entry-way to the Pelham Bay neighborhood,” said Vacca, adding “I thought that a very significant beautification project would add to its ambiance.”
The plaza has been an eye-sore for years, said the councilman, adding that the plans do not include the installation of benches, which had been a community concern.
“Over the course of many years that plaza has long been neglected,” said Vacca. “Nobody maintained it, nobody swept it or shoveled snow from it.”
A parks spokesman stated the construction should be complete in October.
Community Board 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns said the area is a currently inhospitable for commuters.
He said that the board supports the effort to renovate the plaza.
“The idea behind it was to beautify the plaza and identify it as a destination for people, and to maximize the commuter experience by providing a pleasant environment to wait for buses or trains,” said Kearns.
Michele Torrioni, president of the Pelham Bay Taxpayers and Community Association, said that she hears a lot of complaints about the cleanliness of the area around Amendola Plaza and the Pelham Bay Park station.
“I am concerned about who is going to be responsible for keeping the area clean,” asked Torrioni, who noted that at Keane Square Park, where there is also a fenced-off area. There are issues with people dumping trash and debris.
She likes that concept of the project, which should feature native plantings of trees and plants similar to ones already in the area, but feels that people in the community will meet the changes with mixed views.
“It would be good to have something nice there, because it is kind of wasted space now,” said Torrioni of Amendola Plaza, who added that she believes the area has to look better than it does now.
The plaza was named after Anthony Amendola in 1982.
At the time, Amendola owned the nearby Chateau Pelham catering establishment, and was celebrated for his commitment to the local Pelham Bay community, according to a document from the era.
The former restaurant site is now a medical office and a two-story commercial building with stores on the first floor that face the plaza.