Oldest Bronx park parcel cleaned of vehicles and debris

(l-r) Councilman Mark Gjonaj; Kevin Walter, NYC Parks supervisor; Gendetta Brown, city parks worker; Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto at the cleanup on Friday, August 17 on NYC Parks land on Meyers Street adjacent to former nursery property.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

Long-forgotten parkland got a much-needed clean up.

A parcel of land that is believed to be the oldest parkland in the Waterbury-LaSalle and Throggs Neck community was cleared of overgrown trees, weeds and debris in a massive cleanup on Thursday, August 16 and Friday, August 17.

The paved-over plot is located on Meyers Street behind a shuttered garden center.

When a local news television station contacted elected officials who represent the area, the NYC Parks Department was called and they swiftly conducted a major cleanup, removing small weed-like trees, derelict vehicles, trash, brush and litter.

“Our staff cleaned and trimmed the site today as soon as we were alerted to the conditions,” said a Parks spokeswoman. “We appreciate Councilman [Mark] Gjonaj and Assemblyman [Michael] Benedetto bringing this issue to our attention and we will continue to monitor and clean the site regularly.”

The cleanup was a team effort by Senator Jeff Klein, Benedetto and Gjonaj, who reached out to the NYC Parks Department, according to all three elected officials.

The cleanup also involved the NYC Department of Sanitation. The NYPD was also brought in to facilitate the removal of derelict vehicles, said Gjonaj.

Gjonaj said that as soon as they determined that the area was park land, calls were then made to different city agencies to clear up the mess.

Now residents who live nearby will be able to enjoy this particular space off East Tremont Avenue and not have the property be used for illegal purposes, said Gjonaj.

“This is a perfect example of government actually working and delivering,” said Gjonaj. “This is the city and state actually working together through the assembly, state senate and city council to address a local issue.”

Just hours before the cleanup, the area was in “chaos,” and afterwards it was “transformed,” said Gjonaj.

“Basically, the land fell off the Parks Department radar screen because the nursery was (maintaining the area) for years,” said Klein.

The rectangular shaped park dates back to the 1830s, said Benedetto, who added it has been traced back to a period of time when stonemasons who were working on Fort Schuyler lived in the immediate vicinity.

It very well may be the oldest park in the Bronx, said the assemblyman.

“It was in terrible disarray,” said Benedetto, who added that the nursery, which faced Bruckner Boulevard and was called Better Gro Garden Center, took care of the property well because it was at the rear entrance to their property.

He is now grappling with the question of what to do with the site, and plans on consulting with the occupants of the handful of residences on the street to see if a pocket park could be appropriate or if they would simply like NYC Parks to maintain the property as it.

He and his fellow elected officials seem to be leaning towards the latter option, according to multiple conversations.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
Weeds and trees overgrew in the area prior to the cleanup, as can be seen in this ‘before’ photo.
Photo courtesy of Councilman Gjonaj’s office

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