A renovation of a popular community park in Pelham Bay is now underway.
Ground was broken on the $800,000 renovation of Colucci Playground on Tuesday, September 13.
The renovations are expected to include many enhancements, among them a new spray shower for children.
Councilman James Vacca secured the funding for the upgrade in the city budget, and both he and Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, NYC Parks Department Bronx commissioner, were on hand for the ceremonial groundbreaking.
Joining them were Martin Prince, Community Board 10 chairman; Virginia Gallagher, CB 10 Parks Committee chairwoman, parks advocate Nilka Martell, parks personnel and Pelham Bay community members and park-goers.
The councilman said that the renovations had special meeting to him because the park is named for his aunt, Florence Colucci, an activist in the community and former Pelham Bay Taxpayers Association president who Vacca said helped secure the funding from Mayor John Lindsay to build the park in 1969.
“We are going to be renovating it, said the councilman. “Parks receive wear and tear, and I don’t want to want our parks to be in a deteriorated state; I want to be proactive and address situations. ”
The enhancements to the multi-purpose park includes new fencing, planting beds, benches and repaving, chess and game tables, bicycle racks and an handicap-accessible drinking fountain.
Vacca stressed in his remarks that the funds he secured in the city budget will not make everything new in the park, but that it is a substantial improvement.
The commissioner said that the project would give new life to the park.
“This reconstruction project will give new life to the playground area here at Colucci Park and will offer more engaging recreational resources for the children of this neighborhood,” said Rodriguez-Rosa. “I’d like to thank Councilman Vacca for providing this opportunity.”
According to the department, the reconstruction of the playground is expected to be completed by the summer of 2017.
Vacca expects to still be in office when the renovations are complete. He is term limited, and will leave office at the end of 2017.
The park, originally and sometimes alternately known as Wilkinson Playground, was named after Colucci in 1983 after her passing.
A frequent park-goer, Jeremy Lewis, said that he plays basketball on the courts in the mornings and evenings, and that the park is well used by community members of all walks of life.
“Everyone comes here: from parents with little kids, to teenagers and adults, to older adults who play handball here,” said Lewis, adding “I enjoy playing a lot of basketball in the park, and I have a daughter who I bring here when she is not in school.”
After hearing about the renovations now underway, Lewis said that they are ‘step in the right direction.’
“We cannot collectively get everything done, but if we go park by park, it works well,” said Lewis of the renovations.