Parks / Transportation

Overhaul planned for Msgr. Del Valle Square

NYC Parks Dept.

Monsignor del Valle Square before renovations began last year.

City asks residents to help imagine a remake

City officials told Community Board 2 at an April meeting that Monsignor Raul Del Valle Square will soon undergo a major facelift, and they want local residents to share their ideas of what the revamped space could look like.

The tiny square, tucked between the Bruckner Expressway and Southern Boulevard, has been closed to the public since 2012 while the city’s Department of Transportation installs elevator service for the 6-train at the Hunts Point Ave. station.

Bronx parks commissioner Hector Aponte, who grew up on Simpson Street, recalled the area around the square as a prominent part of Hunts Point in his youth.

“We would be sitting around and someone would say, ‘what do you want to do?’ and we would always go for a walk,” near the square, Aponte said at the April 10 meeting.

The parks and transportation departments are currently considering widening the sidewalk at E. 163rd St., planting trees and shrubs to buffer noise from the expressway and creating a seating area, but want the community’s input in deciding how to make the square more appealing to residents.

Ruth Santana of Urban Health Plan said beautifying the square could encourage residents to get involved in spiffing up their neighborhood.

“The community should be responsible for taking care of the plaza,” said Santana.

The chairwoman of Community Board 2’s housing committee, Joyce Campbell-Culler, agreed an aesthetic upgrade to the square would be welcome but only if city officials don’t allow it to deteriorate over time.

“I’m for change but I want to make sure it’s maintained,” said Campbell-Culler.

Some at the meeting expressed concern that turning the small, unused building on the site into a bathroom and installing park benches would encourage vandalism in the square. Others disagreed.

“We have to elevate the mentality. If that was the mentality in the 1970s, we’re now 40 years later,” said Community Board 2 district manager Rafael Salamanca.

Orlando Marin, the former chairman of the board, said property values and community pride would benefit from similar projects.

“You’re changing the mentality when you bring in things like this,” Marin said, adding homebuyers are drawn to buy property in neighborhoods with attractive features.

“People don’t want to just buy a box,” Marin said.

Completion of the preliminary design is scheduled for this fall, officials say. They hope to have a final design ready by the summer of 2014 and construction would begin soon after.

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