CB12 approves Shoelace Park improvements

CB12 approves Shoelace Park improvements
Bronx River Alliance

Plans to revamp Shoelace Park have been approved by Community Board 12 and have been submitted to the NYC Parks and Recreation Department for approval.

“The Parks Committee sees fit that the Shoelace Park Greenway plan move forward,” CB12 Parks Committee chair Ivan Borras told board members at their Thursday, April 27 meeting before board members overwhelmingly approved the project.

The $3.15 million project will go towards safety improvements for pedestrians and cyclists, enhancing the park entrances, and create a more defined greenway in the northeast Bronx park.

“The Bronx River Alliance and NYC Parks are very pleased to advance this important link in the Bronx River Greenway, which when completed will be a continuous series of parks and trails along the full 23-mile length of the river,” said Maggie Greenfield, executive director of the Bronx River Alliance and Bronx River administrator for NYC Parks.

The project, funded by the Transportation Alternatives Program of NYS Department of Transportation, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Councilman Andy King, will formalize the Bronx River Greenway link in the park from 211th Street to 229th Street.

Transportation and Capital Projects Committee chairman John Isaac said the park was also the focus of an April 13 joint meeting with the NYC Department of Transportation about connections into Shoelace Park.

The DOT is creating more friendly bike and pedestrian access into the park, he said.

“Our committee recommends that we approve these projects because all it is a narrowing of the intersections, making it safer for the kids to cross going into the park,” Isaac said. “It’s defining the corridors and creating access points into the park.”

Prior to the vote, Judy Hutson of the Friends of Shoelace Park told board members that King had very recently expressed a desire to halt the project since learning the area was the site of the first highway in the United States.

She urged board members to move forward with the parks project.

“We’ve been working on getting that grant since 2009,” Hutson said. “We’ve done many things in the park and we think it’s great that it’s historic and we should keep it in a historic way but this is the 21st century. Instead of being a highway for cars, it should be a highway for people.”

But Brian Melford from King’s office said the councilman was interested in creating an historic recognition to mark its historic significance.

“He actually wants them to get the money so he can start the second (funding) phase of keeping the site historic,” Melford said.

Borras acknowledged King’s recent interest in creating a historic attraction at the site before the vote, but urged the board to continue on with the current plans given the time and money already invested in the project.

CB 12 district manager George Torres said the letter had been submitted and the project looked likely to be approved.

“We voted overwhelmingly for that project, so we think it will go forward,” he said.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.