Completion is almost in sight for the Bronx River Greenway.
Thursday morning, October 14, brought a long-awaited groundbreaking on a new section of the Greenway near the 174th Street Bridge and adjoining Starlight Park, which has served as staging area for other projects, like Concrete Plant Park off the Sheridan Expressway.
The state Department of Transportation’s acting commissioner Stanley Gee was joined by elected officials, Bronx River Alliance, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, The Point Community Development Corporation and Nos Quedamos for the happy occasion.
Once completed, the park and Greenway will include a multi-use path for cyclists and pedestrians along the Bronx River Parkway, all inside a 13-acre park which will feature a soccer field, basketball court, picnic areas, playgrounds for older and younger children, and a floating dock for canoeing and boating.
The Bronx River Greenway, which will eventually run the complete length of the Bronx River, from the East River to the city line, will be extended by just under a mile.
Portions of the Greenway have already been completed. Aside from federal money, most of the funding for the $17 million project came from a 2005 bond issued by New York State for capital projects.
“Under the leadership of Governor Paterson, NYSDOT has worked closely with community leaders and elected officials to ensure that the project includes transforming Starlight Park from a neglected facility into a vital community resource for all those who live and work in the South Bronx,” Gee said.
Present at the groundbreaking were Congressman Joseph Crowley, Assemblyman Peter Rivera, Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, Deputy Borough President Aurelia Greene, Bronx Parks commissioner Hector Aponte, and executive director of the Bronx River Alliance Linda Cox, among other excited guests.
“Today’s ground breaking at Starlight Park is an exciting step forward in building a greener and more livable community,” Crowley said.
“The redevelopment project will open the waterfront to all residents and will help make the Bronx a more attractive destination for visitors and investment.
“Thanks to collaboration from community members, public officials and government agencies, this once forgotten area will soon be home to a beautiful and complete stretch of trails and parks.”
Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice had members on hand for the ground breaking. Their group has fought for environmental improvement along the Bronx River since the mid 1990s. They especially advocated for the construction in Starlight Park, and for the completion of Concrete Plant Park.
Several members of the community said that they were happy the area was being redeveloped.
Many would like to see a footbridge linking the eastern and western side of the Bronx River to facilitate use of the park.
There are also significant concerns about making sure there will be a security presence in the park.
“The project is a great thing for our community, because the park will provide an outlet for young people to express themselves,” said Jeremy Guerra, a resident of Bronx River Houses.