Photo by Rebekah Logan
Children played in Barretto Point Park shortly after its opening last spring.
On the first warm Thursday afternoon in April, Barretto Point Park was alive with the sounds of youngsters playing. For a change, the park wasn’t locked-up after school.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg opened the park with great fanfare last October, but since then, to the dismay of many of those who crusaded for it to be built, its gates have been locked at 3 in the afternoon.
Responding to questions from The Hunts Point Express, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe promised that a new park worker would be assigned to the park, allowing it to be open until dusk.
Benepe announced plans to hire 65 maintenance workers, a 25 percent increase in the work force, when he addressed more than 150 advocates from around the borough at the 13th annual Bronx Parks Speakup at Lehman College on Feb. 24.
As a result, he said, Barretto Point would no longer split the time of a worker with another park, an arrangement that has disappointed the staff of The Point, one of the organizations that fought for the creation of the 5-acre waterfront park where Tiffany Street meets the East River.
Adam Liebowitz, the director of The Point’s teen ACTION program, complained that the park closed just as school let out, preventing it from being used by his after-school program, even in the unusually warm weather earlier this winter.
At the Speakup, Benepe called Barretto Point “arguably the prettiest park in New York City.” But because the park is off the beaten track and isn’t served by public transportation, community groups say its good looks won’t be enough to attract users. They hope to bring residents there for organized events.
Liebowitz is planning a beach volleyball tournament, and MUD/BONE, the theater company headquartered at 889 Hunts Point Avenue, plans to stage plays in the park’s amphitheater this summer.