A large swath of Pelham Parkway is being improved.
A $1.35 million capital improvement project is underway on the grassy Pelham Parkway mall from White Plains Road to Holland Avenue, on both the north and south sides.
The work to enhance the aesthetics of the park for recreation is part of a larger $8 million plan for the entire parkway. The project is phase one.
Funding for the project comes from the Croton Filtration Plant mitigation funds, a small slice from the $200 million earmarked for improving Bronx parks pledged by the Department of Environmental Protection when it gained approval in 2014 to build a water filtration plant under Van Cortlandt Park.
“The intent for this project is to reconstruct the malls, providing a safe, attractive recreational space for pedestrians, cyclists and runner,” stated a Parks Department spokesman.
According to a master plan submitted to Community Board 11 for the project, additional features of the reconstruction could include protecting mature trees, new plantings to give the mall areas more definition and the placement of new trees, as well as replacing asphalt walkways with pavers.
Additional seating will also be added at bus stops, the spokesman said, with the original design calling for the construction of circular seating areas near the transit connections. Additional seating will be placed elsewhere in the park too, stated the spokesman
CB 11 approved the design in 2014.
District manager Jeremy Warneke said that the project is needed for many reasons.
“It needed to be done,” said Warneke. “It is long overdue and I am glad to see it come to fruition.”
He added: “The goal of this (work) is to make it more enjoyable to sit in the park.”
In the past, before the construction began, there were large holes that park-goers fell into and the large trees needed pruning, a source said.
The parkland is the only greenspace refuge for many residents along the parkway who live in apartment buildings, said Joe Menta, of the Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance, a local conservation group.
While the PPPA is pleased with the project, he said it has raised safety concerns, as pedestrians who cannot use the walking paths in the area fenced off by the construction are detouring through the area along the side of the roadway.
In some cases they are even crossing over the guardrails onto the roadway area, said Menta, adding this is happening in both east- and west-bound lanes.
“The safety issues have me very concerned,” he said. “I am very happy about the project but I think (Parks) has to put some accident mitigation measures in place during the construction.”
Local Pelham Parkway resident Anthony Lentini said that the construction was impeding the pedestrian walking paths in the park.