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Sensory Garden at Pelham Bay Park to receive upgrade

Pelham Bay Park Sensory Garden construction schematic.
Bronx Times
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The Sensory Garden at Pelham Bay Park is scheduled for enhancements.

The garden was established in 2006 by NYC Parks and the Friends of Pelham Bay Park, initially as a Playground for All Children.

This playground sits at the southwestern park of Pelham Bay Park between Bruckner Boulevard and Middletown Road next to the baseball fields and running track.

But in September 2017, an idea was built upon making some changes to fully integrate the playground for children of all abilities and encourage the use of all five human senses, according to NYC Parks documentation.

The project had already received its $550,000 from former Councilman James Vacca in 2017, a district now resided over by Councilman Mark Gjonaj.

“Parks provide amazing opportunities for recreation, fitness, learning and socializing for children of all ages,” said Councilman Gjonaj about the project in his new district. “The Pelham Bay Park Sensory Garden will allow kids to engage with nature using all of their senses and literally give them a hands on experience in discovery.”

However, the design introduction and community board approval occurred only within the last few months.

On May 17, Community Board 10 voted in favor of the upgrades to the garden and want to ensure those plans move forward through to completion, during its full board meeting.

“On our end this is something the board would certainly love to see come to fruition,” said CB10 district manager, Matt Cruz.

As part of the enhancement, the designs calls for the use of specific plantings that naturally engage the five senses.

“This is just one of the right things to do for a community that deserves it,” Cruz continued.

The new Sensory Garden will enlarge the existing space, maintain a clear view between the garden and playground areas facing northbound and incorporate accessible paths, as well as textured lawns.

Some of these include adding Spearmint and Chocolate Cosmos for smell, Lambs’ Ears and Fescue for touch, Sea Oats and Switch Grass for sound, and Purple Millet and Sugar Maple for sight.

“This project enhancement is especially for the more vulnerable members of our community, like those who are visually impaired,” continued Cruz on the need.

One of the goals of the project, as detailed by the design presentation given to CB 10 on March 29, was to also support accessible programs for children such as gardening, arts and crafts project and sand and water play.

One of the ways these will be accomplished, according to design plans, will be by implementation of the existing natural materials.

For example, furnishing the site with balance logs, living willow arches, stepping log slices, and designing space for kids to use their own creativity to play with their shadows.

The project was designed by NYC Parks Landscape Architect, Marcha Johnson, and though already approved by CB 10, is still under review by other external regulatory agencies, according to an NYC Parks spokesperson.

The project has not yet secured a contractor, a process that takes about nine months on average to officially obtain, according to the Parks Capital Project Tracker.

However, the project is still expected to start by the fall of 2019, according to the Parks spokesperson.

After the project begins construction, Parks estimates completion between 12 and 18 months.

Reach Reporter Sarah Valenzuela at (718) 260-4584. E-mail her at svalenzuela@cnglocal.com.
Updated 5:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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