Down amidst the mountains of scrap metal and the forbidding fences of industry sits one of the neighborhood’s crown jewels, a cozy little park right on the Bronx River.
Now that park is receiving not only visits from local residents and canoeists, but it’s getting national attention as well for its charm and beauty.
Hunts Point Riverside Park won a $10,000 prize in July, as one of five recipients of a national award granted annually for urban design projects that help improve life in American cities.
The Rudy Bruner Award’s silver medal was presented to the Bronx River Alliance on behalf of the 1.4-acre park, which sits on the site of a former vacant lot and illegal dumping ground at the end of Lafayette Street, on the Bronx River.
The park opened to the public in the spring of 2007, and now hosts such community events as the annual Fish Parade and the Amazing Bronx River Flotilla. A fishing pier and amphitheater have lent the park added popularity in the neighborhood.
The Award’s selection committee said the park captures “a sense of nature on a site located between a scrap metal yard and the world’s largest food distribution center,” and commended local activists for providing open space for residents of “a densely populated and underserved community through a sustained and visionary grassroots effort.”
The Bronx River Alliance says it will invest the prize money in bike and pedestrian paths along the South Bronx Greenway, the massive project the city promises will bring recreational opportunities, open space and waterfront access to Hunts Point and surrounding neighborhoods. The city expects construction on the Greenway to be completed some time in 2012.
“We’re delighted to see this remarkable park get the national recognition it deserves,” said Bronx River Alliance Chair Joan Byron. “Hunts Point Riverside Park powerfully demonstrates how Environmental Justice communities and government can work together to effect far-reaching change, and, in particular, how those forces have joined to reclaim the Bronx River as a community asset.”
A version of this article appeared in the August edition of the Hunts Point Express.