The reopening of a park will give Bronx residents greater access to the Harlem River waterfront.
The Parks Department and local elected officials cut the ribbon on a renovated Bridge Park on Thursday, May 28.
The $4 million project, featuring a multi-user greenway path along the Harlem River in addition to new seating, a bicycle rack, drinking fountains and landscaping, was completed in 2013. But construction on the Hamilton Bridge by the park’s access point at Exterior Street required the opening to be delayed.
Officials touted the park as the “gateway to the greenway,” referring to the path along the Harlem River.
“We were able to open up more waterfront to the community,” said parks commissioner Mitchell Silver. And although the park follows Metro-North railroad tracks and the Major Deegan Expressway, Silver noted that when you stand at the waters edge, the noise seems to disappear.
“Use the park, enjoy it with family and friends,” he implored attendees at the ribbon cutting, including students from P.S. 11 in Highbridge.
Attendees also included representatives from adjacent community boards 4 and 5, who celebrated the waterfront space.
“This access here is very unique,” said Community Board 5 chairman Dr. Bola Omotosho. “Parks is something that is very limited in Board 5.”
The park represents an opportunity for improved quality of life, as well as an opportunity for exercise and improved health in the nearby neighborhoods, said Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson.
“It’s extremely important for us to recognize the value we have in our parks,” said Gibson.
Gibson celebrated the realized project as one of the first she funded after being elected. The project was also funded by Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and a federal grant.
While they celebrated the new access to the Harlem River in the park’s greenway, community activists implored officials for continued efforts to expand the greenway along the waterfront, connecting Bridge Park to links including Mill Pond Park.
“The idea and dream is having a continuous greenway path where people can travel safely in the parks,” said Chauncy Young of the Harlem River Working Group.
He envisions a greenway where Bronxites could travel all the way from Randall’s Island to Spuyten Dyvil.
“This is a first step,” he said.