Van Nest Park public hearing set for December

Van Nest residents will discuss potential changes to Van Nest Park at a public hearing in December, The Bronx Times Reporter has learned.

On Wednesday, November 18, City Council members Jimmy Vacca and Joel Rivera, the Parks Department and Community Board 11 district manager John Fratta hosted a scoping meeting on potential alterations to the park.

CB11 has asked that the park be renovated for some time. Residents have complained about the poor condition of the park and its questionable after-hours crowds.

“Every time I walk down to Van Nest Park it breaks my heart,” CB11 member Joe Bombace said. “There are hardly any amenities. It’s a disgrace The bottom line right now is that it’s an eyesore. The children have nowhere to go in their own community.”

Residents remain concerned about the low fence that surrounds the park but is no barrier when the park is closed. It would cost some $350,000 to install a new seven-foot steel fence and rehab nearby sidewalks, the Parks Department stated on November 18. A complete renovation of the park as it exists would cost approximately $1.5 million, Vacca said. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has plans to close Mead and Victor streets, which separate Van Nest Park from two smaller public parcels.

At the scoping meeting, a Parks Department spokesman described what a renovation of the park its sister parcels would entail.

“[It] would incorporate the street beds of Victor and Mead as new parkland,” the spokesman said. “[The city would] install new utilities, new curbs, new sidewalks, new play equipment and a new fence. The park [could gain] ADA accessibility. New stairs and handrails [could] be included.”

The park plus parcels would cost $3.5 million. If Van Nest residents okay the plan to close Mead and Victor streets, DOT would begin work in 2010. It would ask community groups to adopt planters and use the planters to block the closed streets.

The hearing, scheduled for Tuesday, December 15 at St. Dominic’s School, 1684 White Plains Road, will afford residents an opportunity to be weigh in. CB11 will host the hearing, set to begin at 7 p.m.

“We just want to get the views of the public,” Fratta said. “Does the public want [the park] enlarged with additional amenities [or not]? Before we do anything want to make sure it’s what the public wants.”

Vacca agreed.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what the community would like to see at Van Nest Park and then working with Community Board 11 and Councilman Rivera to see what resources are available and what we can do to help,” Vacca said.

Reach reporter Amanda Marinaccio at 718 742-3394 or amarinaccio@cnglocal.com

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