Park renamed for Melrose activist, Nos Quedamos founder

Elected officials and community leaders cut the ribbon officially opening Yolanda García Park.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

A dedicated Melrose community activist who passed away much too soon received an incredible honor.

We Stay/Nos Quedamos, Inc. and NYC Park co-hosted a park-renaming ceremony at Melrose Commons Park on Tuesday, June 18 to honor the late Yolanda García.

Located on Melrose Avenue, the 1.07-acre ‘Yolanda García Park’ was dedicated to the Nos Quedamos founder and local community planning advocate.

The $6.6 million project was funded with $4.8 million allocated by Mayor de Blasio; $1.2 million from Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and $500,000 from Councilman Rafael Salamanca.

The park features a playground, spray shower area, shade elements, seating areas, a drinking fountain, large green spaces, an adult fitness area, fencing, security lighting, a fully accessible comfort station, Americans with Disabilities Act accessible toddler and pre-school elements and more challenging climbing installations for older children.

According to NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, Yolanda García Park was completed early and under budget than originally anticipated.

The site was formerly a vacant parcel of land used mostly for illegal dumping and rampant drug use.

García had envisioned it being repurposed as an open green space for residents.

“She had a vision of a central park for everyone to enjoy and now children for generations to come are going to benefit from her legacy,” Diaz expressed.

Jessica Clemente, Nos Quedamos CEO, described García as a pragmatic bridge-builder who fought for the community’s best interests.

García was born on December 31, 1961 in Santurce, Puerto Rico and emigrated to the Bronx with her family when she was 6-months-old.

(l-r) Ruth Hassel-Thompson, Governor Cuomo’s special advisor; Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.; Community Board 3 district manager John Dudley; Nos Quedamos CEO Jessica Clemente; NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver; Councilman Rafael Salamanca and Bronx Parks Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

She helped run her family’s carpet business at East 156th Street and 3rd Avenue.

In 1992, residents noticed surveyors in their neighborhood and became aware of the city’s urban renewal plans which would have displaced thousands.

García founded Nos Quedamos on June 9, 1993 to oppose large scale urban renewal plans.

She spearheaded the Melrose Urban Renewal Plan, establishing a precedent for community-driven development.

García passed away from a heart attack on February 17, 2005 at 53-years-old.

Prior to her death, García helped create over one million square feet of attainable residential and commercial space.

Nos Quedamos’ development totals 150 buildings consisting of 122 new townhouses comprising 373 apartments; 13 new apartment buildings comprising 1,139 apartments and 15 renovated apartment buildings comprising 275 apartments.

The new townhouses include Plaza de los Angeles, 35 townhouses with 105 apartments; Sunflower Way, 70 townhouses with 210 apartments; Cortlandt Homes, 12 townhouses with 30 apartments, Parkview III, four townhouses with 12 apartments and Cornerstone C2, six townhouses with 16 apartments.

The new apartment buildings include seven low-income rental buildings with 715 apartments, one mixed-income rental building with 84 apartments, two mixed-income homeless/low-income rental buildings with 103 apartments, one low-income senior rental building with 85 apartments, one co-operative building with 61 apartments and one condominium building with 91 apartments.

The renovated buildings include Cauldwell Apartments, five buildings with 76 apartments; Phoenix Estates, four buildings with 124 apartments and LISC/Enterprise Round 7, six buildings with 75 apartments.

Yolanda García was We Stay/Nos Quedamos, Inc.’s founder and first executive director.
Photo courtesy of El Diario La Prensa

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