FVCP: 25 years of protecting a park’s beauty

The Hare Jumping Over the Tortoise statue in Van Cortlandt Park.
Community News Group / Arthur Cusano

A grassroots organization dedicated to improving Van Cortlandt Park is celebrating a milestone.

The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, an independent community-based organization that actively promotes the conservation and improvement of Van Cortlandt Park, is recognizing its 25th anniversary in 2017.

The organization is planning events to celebrate the achievement, said Christina Taylor, FVCP executive director; Silvani Design created the 25th anniversary FVCP logo.

Taylor said that the organization wants to take full advantage of the anniversary and use it as an opportunity to let people know of the organization, if they don’t already, and their accomplishments.

One key FVCP accomplishment in recent years was securing millions of dollars to build a pedestrian bridge over the Major Deegan Expressway that would link the east and west sides of the park, said Taylor.

“It was years of advocacy to get to that point,” she said. “We see that as a tremendous accomplishment.”

Work on maintaining and improving hiking trails in more remote areas of the park is another FVCP achievement, said the executive director.

The organization was responsible for funding a 1997 restoration of the park’s cross country trail, she said.

FVCP worked with the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality and other groups in securing more than $200 million in mitigation funding from the Croton Water Filtration Plant, she said.

While construction on the filtration plant went forward, had it not been for FVCP’s advocacy Taylor said that it would have been built above ground in the park and there wouldn’t have been funding for parks improvement.

This is an entrance to Van Cortlandt Park near Broadway. The FVCP are celebrating 25 years of advocacy.
Community News Group / Arthur Cusano

Moving forward, FVCP goals are to see the park’s 2034 Master Plan implemented, said Taylor, including elements dealing with trails and wetlands.

Felicity Nitz founded FVCP in spring 1992 after reading a New York Times story about Parks Department budget shortfalls affecting a park in her community: Van Cortlandt Park, said Taylor.

By the summer, four friends joined Nitz and FVCP to hire teens to work in the park for the summer removing debris, said Taylor.

Nitz, in a statement, recalled that very first project.

“We collaborated with Riverdale Neighborhood House to bring teens to work in the park,” stated Nitz. “Little did we know this was the genesis of 25 years of advocacy for and change in this jewel of the Bronx.”

According to FVCP, the group has served about 20,000 youth through educational and volunteer programming and hired around 1,000 high school students for internships during its quarter-century history.

The founder added that the anniversary is a time of celebration and that the organization “is proud of its many accomplishments.”

The FVCP board chairman, Christopher Rizzo, stated that the moment of pride is also a celebration of the organization’s partners, including volunteers and students.

Taylor said FVCP is planning on making the anniversary part of a number of events, including an annual spring hike on Saturday, May 13 where she plans on highlighting FVCP’s determination to reveal the park’s assets.

For more information on FVCP and their upcoming events, visit: vancortlandt.org.

Silvani Design created the 25th anniversary Friends of Van Cortlandt Park logo for use throughout the year.
Photo courtesy of FVCP

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

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