Additional funding has assured that Van Nest Playground will soon receive its long-awaited renovations.
For over three years, residents of the Van Nest neighborhood have been working hard to repair and improve their neighborhood park.
The playground sits on the border of Councilmen Joel Rivera and Jimmy Vacca’s districts on White Plains Road and Van Nest Avenue, but both elected officials have joined forces to provide the needed funding.
With a total of $950,000 allocated between the two councilmen, representatives of both officials, as well as several community activists, met with Bronx Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Hector Aponte on Friday, May 13 at the park to discuss the plans.
Designed to fit the current budget, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. announced on the same day that he secured an additional $400,000 for the park.
“Rehabilitating Van Nest Playground will finally give the community an environment that will be clean and safe for our children,” Councilman Rivera said. “We are proud of the efforts of the community which include the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance, Community Board 11 and my colleagues, Councilman Vacca and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. in making this a reality.”
With the funding, the Parks Department will clean-up the park, plant new trees, install new playground equipment, make updates to current playground equipment, add new safety turf throughout the play area, a spray shower for children and new fencing around the playground.
With the additional funding, the VNNA will be discussing other park improvements.
“This is a perfect example of local elected officials really working together to benefit our communities,” said Councilman Vacca. “We were first made aware about possible renovations to the playground around three years ago. It was a tough process but the project is now moving ahead. We were all very happy with the designs from the Parks Department and we are ready to get this going.”
Other additions currently being discussed are an installment of a half-basketball court, a sitting area for seniors, and a possible expansion of the park. According to VNNA member Bob Nolan, the plan right now is to just make the necessary repairs to improve the playground.
“We were extremely happy with the presentation from Parks. It was right along the lines of what the neighborhood wants,” Nolan said. “We hope that this goes as quick as possible and we are all very excited.”
After the VNNA meeting, the recommendations will be reviewed by Community Board 11 and Parks Department. Nolan said that if all goes well, designs for the playground will be developed in late August and construction can begin as early as spring 2013.