The largest park in the south Bronx, St. Mary’s Park, has now entered the second phase of its $19.6 million facelift as of Thursday, November 7.
Those in attendance for the ground breaking of phase two included NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, Community Board 1 district manager Cedric Loftin and third-graders from the Heketi Community Charter School.
The second portion of improvements to the 35-acre park involves the landscape between St. Anns Avenue and East 143rd Street, and includes a renovation of the amphitheater as well as the street plaza and its seating accommodations.
Additional improvements will be made throughout the park such as reconfiguring walkways, adding security lighting, increasing handicap accessibility and planting various vegetation.
Plans and funding for the park’s revitalization stemmed from the Anchor Parks Initiative approved by Mayor de Blasio in 2016. St Mary’s Park is one of five parks in NYC allotted $150 million for improvements.
“With phase one already underway, we are very excited to break ground on phase two of the Anchor Parks project at St. Mary’s Park, bringing even more upgrades to this much loved neighborhood park,” said Commissioner Silver.
“Thanks to over $19 million from Mayor de Blasio for the second phase of the project, the renovated St. Mary’s Park will truly have something for everyone from a performance area and dog run, to wheelchair accessible paths and turf fields, and more.” he added.
Cause For Concern
While renovations are underway, some residents like Logan Powell are not so pleased with the timeline of the process. Powell asked how could the city start on phase two if phase one is not complete yet.
“Lots of people have dogs around here and now most of the park is closed,” Powell said, who is a dog owner himself.
Powell also said he understands the need for revamping the park, but it is not solving the problem of people using drugs in the park.
Another local resident, 57-year-old Evelon Chevere, said she’s been coming to St. Mary’s Park since she was a child and even brought her kids to the park as they were growing up.
Chevere shared similar concerns as Powell about rampant drug use in the park, but thinks the changes to the park will alleviate the issue.
Chevere added she has a seen a more frequent police presence around the park as well as park officials making rounds to pick up syringes and expects those cleanup efforts to continue.
She remained optimistic about the improvements, specifically pointing out how the park’s landscaping continues to look better and better as well as the new playground.
“In the summertime, it’ll be a nice place to lay out a blanket and enjoy the park,” Chevere said. “The playgrounds are great too because they’re safe and clean now.”
The park’s renovation is projected to be completed by September 2021.
However, local residents and law enforcement will have to handle the ever-present issue of drug users in the park.