Van Nest Monument rebuild slated for spring 2018

Van Nest Monument rebuild slated for spring 2018
A NYC Parks Department schematic of the renovations planned at the Van Nest Memorial at White Plains Road and Unionport Road.
Photo courtesy of Van Nest Neighborhood Association

The Van Nest Memorial area honoring veterans will be receiving a renovation next year.

The memorial, a tribute to veterans who served in foreign wars, will see major renovations to the Greenstreet park where the granite monument is located, in 2018.

The monument dates back to 1919 and has been at its present location at White Plains Road, Unionport Road and Mead Street since the 1920s.

It is a project supported by the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance.

The triangle will feature new planting beds, a new flagpole that will be put in place with $60,000 in capital funding allocated by Councilman Ritchie Torres, 1939 World’s Fair replica benches, rosette and a wheelchair accessible ramp leading to the monument inscribed with the names of local veterans from worlds war I and II, the Korean conflict and Vietnam War.

The renovation began as an effort to erect a new flagpole for the Van Nest Memorial, said Bernadette Ferrara, VNNA president.

After the funding allocation by Torres for the flagpole, the NYC Parks Department has allocated additional funds for improvements to the Van Nest Park’s memorial plaza, said Ferrara

“It is going to be beautiful,” said Ferrara. “The whole square is going to be redone and it is great because it is such a central, focal-point of Van Nest.”

Richard Vitacco, a VNNA member who is East Bronx History Forum president and the coordinator of annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies at the monument, said that the location represents a connection between Van Nest’s past and present.

“The whole park area is in a sense the ‘townsquare,” said Vitacco, adding it is a gathering place for people for civic events, including the annual Van Nest Christmas tree lighting.

According to Parks, the wrought-iron fence surrounding the war monument will be lowered from four feet to two feet and six inches to facilitate viewing and reading of names on the monument.

The lowering of the fence is part of an initiative called Parks without Borders to make parks more open and welcoming.

A formal entrance to the monument area will be a part of the reconstruction, stated an Parks spokeswoman.

Four new trees will be added as part of the project, and the plantings will be added to existing tree pits as well as other locations in the park, with construction expected to begin in spring 2018.

“We’ve worked closely with the community on the design for this project,” said Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, Parks Bronx commissioner. “We’ll be replacing the time-worn concrete, making the memorial greener and adding a ramp to make sure veterans and others with disabilities can view the memorial up close.”

Torres said that monument area’s importance to the community couldn’t be overstated.

“The $60,000 allocated by my office will beautify the park with new plantings and seating, and the new flagpole will further cement our gratitude to all who serve our country in uniform,” said the councilman.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procc[email protected] Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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