Belden Point pocket park dedicated on City Island

Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, Bronx NYC Parks commissioner; Senator Jeff Klein; Deputy Borough President Aurelia Greene; Virginia Gallagher, Community Board 10 Parks Committee chairwoman; John Mehlfeld, Leonard Hawkins American Legion Post 156 commander; Robert Salerno, Leonard Hawkins American Legion Post 156 sergeant-at-arms and Parks personnel celebrate the opening of Belden Point Park on Thursday, July 28.
Photo by Miriam Quin

It took more than a decade, but a long-awaited new park on City Island was officially unveiled.

Civic leaders and elected officials dedicated the $390,000 plaza at the southern end of City Island Avenue, at Belden Point, on Thursday, July 28.

The park, situated between two restaurants that agreed to help maintain the space, promises increased waterfront access for the community. It also redefines an area that was once prone to dumping into a more appealing site.

Previously, only a chain-link fence, blacktop and a concrete wall separated City Island Avenue traffic from the shores of Long Island Sound.

Belden Point’s Park features a new traffic turn-around with 18-inch wide safety posts, two New York World’s Fair replica benches, decorative pavement and railings and two landscaped areas with plantings, according to NYC Parks.

Its construction was made possible with $170,000 in funding each from both Senator Jeff Klein and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., as well as additional funding from the mayor’s office, according to speakers at the dedication.

Funding had originally been allocated more than a decade ago in some cases. Work was completed in the spring.

Representing the borough president at the ribbon cutting was Deputy Borough President Aurelia Greene.

“We can now say that City Island has its own Greenstreet,” said Greene at the ceremony, adding that the project represents a collaboration of city and state officials. “I commend City Island residents for staying on this issue and making sure we have another highlight in the Bronx.”

Diaz issued a statement calling City Island one of the jewels of the communities in the borough, adding that he is excited by the completion of the street-end plaza that will link to the Belden Point waterfront.

Klein called the creation of the park a ten-year fight. He called the new pocket park truly a gem on the island.

“I am happy that my constituents can relax on the new benches and enjoy the waterfront views,” said the senator, adding it has transformed the southern tip of the island.

Virginia Gallagher, Community Board 10 Parks Committee chairwoman, was acknowledged for her roe in the park’s creation.

Gallagher said she had been recommended by then-Senator Guy Velella and the NYC Planning Commission to sit on a panel studying historical waterfront sites, and as part of their findings, the restoration got rolling.

She explained the historical significance of Belden Point as a recruiting location during World War II.

The City Island Civic Association advocated for the creation of the park.

John Doyle, CICA board member, said that the civic organization had been concerned that funding allocated for the project was in jeopardy due to the long period of time it took to finalize the plans.

“It shows what positive things can happen when the residential (and) business communities come together with our elected officials and stay vigilant in holding government accountable,” said Doyle.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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