Hawkins Park restored for holiday season

Once again, Hawkins Park will sport a Menorah and Christmas tree, after a $250,000 renovation was completed just before the start of the holiday season. Photo by Patrick Rocchio

A Christmas tree and a Hanukkah menorah are on display again in City Island’s Hawkins Park, which benefited from an enormous $250,000 renovation completed in November.

The renovated park features circular paths and new benches around the World War I monument dedicated to Leonard Hawkins and other City Island veterans. The renovation, funded by then-Councilwoman Madeline Provenzano and pushed to completion by Councilman Jimmy Vacca, also includes new plantings sure to delight City Island gardeners.

“The renovations to [Hawkins Park] include new benches, fences, pavement, a safety surface for the concrete dolphin sculpture and an ADA-accessible drinking fountain,” Parks Department spokeswoman Jesslyn Tiao Moser said. “A new water connection will also be provided for community gardeners, such the City Island Gardening Club.”

City Island residents applauded the renovation.

“The set up is round, which is better than the way it was,” City Island Civic Association vice-president Fred Ramftl said. “This gives the park a much more positive look. The project was long overdue – the redesign took almost a year.”

Many City Island residents are pleased about the fact that the large dolphin sculpture, a favorite plaything for generations of children, remained near the center of the 0.14-acre park.

There was an uproar in April when it appeared that the dolphin would be taken from the park and moved to Ambrosini Playground. City Island children had painted a canvas sign that read, “Save our dolphin.” The grassroots movement succeeded when borough Parks Department Bronx Commissioner Hector Aponte attended a meeting of the City Island Civic Association. Aponte polled the group and then agreed to keep the dolphin at Hawkins Park when it reopened.

Reach reporter Patrick Rocchio at 718 742-3393 or procchio@cnglocal.com

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