One Bronx neighborhood is on track for healthier living — because they have a new track to run laps.
City officials celebrated the opening of a new $6 million, 400-meter running track and synthetic turf soccer field in Soundview Park on Tuesday, August 5.
Borough brass on hand at the ribbon-cutting said the new facility was well worth its $6 million price tag. Residents of the city’s most unhealthy borough, and state’s unhealthiest county, now have more space to get in shape — with picturesque scenery of the Bronx and East rivers as a backdrop.
Running to health
Officials hope the new facilities will help stem the Bronx’ boroughwide problem staying healthy. Bronx County finished as the state’s “unhealthiest county” in a statewide health study released this March by the March Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The borough also has the city’s highest rates for obesity, diabetes and asthma.
“This beautiful park with its great views and new features promotes the active lifestyle that is needed by so many Bronx residents.” said Hector Aponte, the Bronx Parks borough commissioner.
Locals can run laps on the new rubberized track, and get fit with adult workout equipment on the sideline. The finished field also includes new bleachers and lights for evening play.
Serrano: More $$ en route
The project was mostly funded by a $5.5 million grant from the Bloomberg-era “PlaNYC” initiative aimed at improving city quality of life. The track and field are part of the larger plan for Soundview Park that included baseball fields installed in 2008, and a playground that remains delayed, but which officials now say will open in 2015.
The area’s congressman, Jose Serrano, vowed at the ribbon-cutting that Federal funds would be available to the park in its continued growth.
“Earmarks (Congresional allocations) were turned into a bad word in 2008, but communities need earmarks,” said Serrano.
Besides the running track and soccer field, the new facility also has areas designated for pole vaulting and triple jump.
Locals could use all of the park’s new amenities to host a “Soundview Park Olympics,” pitting neighboring schools against each other in a series of events, said another elected official at the track’s opening.
“We’re going to have trophies, with judges, and all of the schools involved,” said Assemblyman Marcos Crespo.
Crespo said he would work to organize such an event with the local neighborhood group, Friends of Soundview Park.
“We’re going to start a one-of-a kind, Olympic games right here in our community,” he said.