An iconic local park is continuing its mission to better serve its community’s ever changing needs.
On Friday, October 23, Bronx Parks Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, Councilman Fernando Cabrera, local residents, community members and P.S. 246 united to cut the ribbon at St. James Park where a new multi-purpose synthetic turf field was installed.
This new turf field can be utilized year round for softball, youth baseball, soccer and many other athletic activities.
The project was completed with $735,000 in funding secured by Councilman Cabrera with an additional $45,000 in mayoral funding.
Participants at last Friday’s grand opening ceremony was held on the field.
After a ribbon cutting was held, P.S. 246 students played a friendly game of soccer, launching soccer ball after soccer ball through the field’s new goal posts.
According to Commissioner Rodriguez-Rosa, St. James Park represents “one of the main focal points of the community” and offers visitors “so many wonderful amenities such as tennis courts and a new synthetic soccer field” as indicative of their ever evolving needs.
“As generations go and demographics change, the interests of what’s going to be needed in St. James Park also changes,” she said, adding. “We try as a parks department to adapt ourselves to the community’s interests and needs and it seems that soccer has become a very popular sport here because we have some South American groups visiting St. James Park and soccer is their basic sport. Councilman Cabrera saw that fact in this community and we partnered with him so we could make sure that this dream would come true.”
“I am proud that the field’s renovations have been completed and the community will now be able to take advantage of this amenity. Physical activity and fresh air are crucial to our well-being and many New Yorkers rely on parks and public spaces to get both,” said Councilman Cabrera.”
“I believe that children need to have healthy extracurricular activities outside of school and St. James Park helps provide that for them here in our community,” said Caitlin Clarke, first grade teacher at P.S. 246.
“It’s great for our students to be here today because it gives them the opportunity to be the first ones to play on the new field and even though they are playing, they are still learning more about soccer and about teamwork,” said Ivelisse Ortega, second grade teacher at P.S. 246.
Following its September 13, 1897 acquisition, St. James Park emerged from humble beginnings as a low, marshy land into an expansive vibrant park whose facilities adapted over the years to accommodate Fordham’s changing needs.
“Having these renovations done at St. James Park has been one of our board’s top budget priorities for many years and we advocate strongly for our community’s needs,” said Adaline Walker-Santiago, Community Board 7 chairwoman. “As an educator, I love anything that helps our children lead more active, healthier lives.”
Barbara Stronczer, CB7 Parks and Recreation Committee chairwoman, said plans to renovate St. James Park originated three years ago through Cabrera and then CB 7 Parks and Recreation chairman William Francis after both felt all six of the park’s tennis courts were being under-utilized and there was a growing need within the community for football and soccer fields.