Beloved dolphin statue stays

The fate of a dolphin monument at the Hawkins Sitting Area aroused a lot of concern when word came that the Parks Department was planning to move it. It now looks like it will remain somewhere in the park that it has called home for three decades. Photo by Patrick Rocchio

Some City Islanders had a very strong emotional reaction when they heard that a dolphin sculpture they have come to love was to be moved by the Parks Department out of Hawkins Park. Now, after much pleading, the dolphin sculpture is staying put.

On Monday, April 20 construction crews began to make preparations to relocate the dolphin sculpture from the park to Ambrosini Playground next to City Island’s P.S. 175.

Uproar ensued by residents who were upset to see a piece of what they consider the fabric of their neighborhood possibly taken away. They began gathering petitions, and schoolchildren worked on signs and posters protesting the move. After a City Island Civic Association meeting with the Department of Park and Recreation, the dolphin is staying put.

“These letters from the kids have cute drawings and we are putting all them into the City Island Nautical Museum,” said Barbara Dolensek, second vice-president of the City Island Civic Association. “It was great see the kids involved in the community.”

At the CICA meeting on Tuesday, April 28, Bronx Parks Commissioner Hector Aponte asked for a consensus on the issue, and a large crowd gathered agreed that they wanted to dolphin sculpture to stay in the park. It became a very emotional issue, drawing out residents who are not members of the organization.

Many who engaged in the protest were not aware that the CICA voted 21 to 6 in favor of relocating the dolphin to Ambrosini Playground in November as part of the $250,000 reconstruction of Hawkins Park, which is a memorial park to World War I veterans.

In order to keep the dolphin in its present location in Hawkins Park, the Parks Department would have to put down 120 square-feet of rubber matting because neighborhood children enjoy climbing on the large structure, which has been in 0.136-acre park since 1972.

Now, Parks will try to move the dolphin statue to another part of the park in order to move a World War I monument located in the rear of the space to a more prominent location.

“I don’t think anyone expected this kind of emotional response, but as long as it stays in Hawkins Park people should be happy,” Dolensek said. “Many people said that they couldn’t believe the kind of emotional impact this had.”

Dolensek added: “This is the first dolphin that has been near City Island since evolution.”

CICA president Bill Stanton said that while he was glad to see so many people take interest in the dolphin, he felt that City Island has even more pressing needs.

“I love the passion they are showing about the dolphin,” Stanton said, “but is has to extend to other area like fighting over-development or the closure of our ladder company.”

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