City recognizes top Bronx Parks employees

Bronx Parks employees received recognition for their capital team work and for Keeping It Cool this summer at Baretto Point Park Photo by Daniel Avilla (Parks & Recreation)

Since 2006, the Bronx Croton Capital Team has completed 26 Parks Department projects – athletic fields, playgrounds and public showers. On Thursday, October 30, at the city’s annual Best of Parks event, Commissioner Adrian Benepe presented the team with an award.

Other Bronx Parkies were recognized; Benepe conferred a Keeping It Cool Award on the employees who operated and maintained Barretto Point Park’s Floating Pool this summer. More than 35,000 people visited the pool. Six individual Bronx Parkies won Going the Extra Mile Awards.

“New York City’s parks have never been so plentiful, green and clean,” Benepe said. “Much of it is thanks to the hardworking Parks Department employees who personally invest themselves in caring for the city’s green spaces.”

The Bronx Croton Capital Team manages a $200 million Department of Environmental Protection fund for the borough’s parks. DEP is building the Croton Water Filtration Plant under Van Cortlandt Park.

“We had a terrific year,” the team’s program manager, Faisal Choudhury, said. “With 26 projects completed, 19 in construction and 31 in design, we got a lot done.”

Faisal nominated his construction and design supervisors for the Best of Parks award. Most construction and design supervisors handle one or two jobs at a time. In 2008, Faisal’s team members consistently took on three or four.

On Thursday, November 6, they broke ground on Croton-financed renovations at Ferry Point Park.

“DEP gave us $200 million – great,” Faisal said. “But there’s a timeline – 75 projects in five years. So we’re very busy. My supervisors work up to 12 hours a day.”

The 2008 Best of Parks event took place at Yankee Stadium.

“Ours was the last formal ceremony for the stadium,” Faisal said. “It was quite an honor.”

New York City’s seven lane, 82 foot lone, 5 million pound Floating Lady Pool docked at Barretto Point Park. Bronx children flocked to the barge, hauled by tugboats via Bayonne, New Jersey from Brooklyn. Metropolitan Transit Authority buses shuttled swimmers from Prospect Avenue to Barretto Point.

The Parks Department conferred with DEP to lay sewage pipes for the pool, and hooked up with Con Edison for power. According to Chief Parks Engineer John Natoli, the summer flew by without a single swimmer injury.

“This project was not routine,” Natoli said. “It wasn’t a park or a promenade. We needed the maintenance people, and the pool people and the planning people. It was literally ‘all hands on deck.’”

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