Bronx Park and the now-linked Shoelace Park will eventually become a part of the greater Bronx River Greenway, but residents must first decide how they want to use their stretch of green space.
Residents of Community Board 12 heard several ideas for the space Tuesday, February 14 from NYC Parks and Recreation officials and W Architecture, their contracted architectural firm, during a meeting at the board’s offices on White Plains Road.
Maggie Greenfield of the Bronx River Alliance explained to the roughly dozen people on hand that the work was part of a greater effort to link the land to other stretches of the planned 23-mile greenway.
The greenway will run the entire lenghth of the narrow Bronx River, but the one-and-a-half mile portion of the park discussed Tuesday night lies between East 211th Street to East 229th Street.
The $3.15 million allocated to the project will go towards safety improvements for pedestrians and and cyclists, enhancing the park entrances, and to create a more defined greenway.
A 2009 park master plan proposed the idea of dividing the 40-foot-wide green space into several uses, such as a playground and a bike trail, but did not go into the details of how that might be implemented, explained W Architecture’s Barbara Wilks.
“That’s all they said about this park we’re going to work on. So what we have to do now is take the next step and decide where will these things happen,” Wilks said.
The strip of land could include benches, adult fitness equipment, a dedicated bike path, a dedicated jogging path or any combination of those features.
Other ideas she floated included an overlook above the river near 220th Street that could include benches, the creation of additional entrance plazas along the greenway to make more inviting entry points and a possible redesign of the area around the historic Niles Triangle area.
Wilks said changes could also be made to the multi-use event plaza at East 222nd Street, which could be used for performance space.
No restrooms can be installed as part of the current project due to the cost, she added.
CB 12 district manager George Torres advocated for more benches.
He said he walked the stretch of park every day, and said there were few places to sit and take in the river’s beauty.
Like Wilks, Torres urged residents on hand to focus on the path, the focal point of the project.
“The only thing I’ll add to that is that bikes and people should be separated – you don’t want the bike paths right next to the walking path because you don’t want people getting accidently run over,” Wilks said.
Residents in attendance mostly agreed, and also hoped narrower, divided pathways will reduce the use of illegal ATVs along the trailway, which some said was a common nuisance.
Others asked for lower, pedestrian-friendly lighting, more entrances and new barbeque areas for families who spend the day in the park.
Another meeting on the project will be scheduled at a later date to show plans incorporating the recent resident input.