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Cortlandt Park to Get New Playground, Trail Improvements

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Cortlandt Park to Get New Playground, Trail Improvements

NYC Parks' Bronx Commissioner Hector M. Aponte today joined Council Member Andrew Cohen and State Senator Jeffrey Klein to announce the allocation of funds and securing of grants for a new playground on the western side of Van Cortlandt Park--the first playground in this area--and for improvements to the John Muir and John Kieran Trails. These projects were proposed by the new Van Cortlandt Park Master Plan, released by NYC Parks earlier this year to identify how the park can be improved. They were also joined at the press conference by Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy President and Park Administrator Margot Perron, and members of the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park.

"Last year, NYC Parks worked with the communities surrounding Van Cortlandt Park to create a plan which would improve the park and better serve parkgoers," said Bronx Parks Commissioner Aponte. "We identified priority projects--including creating a new playground on Van Cortlandt's western side and upgrading park trails. The plan started to become a reality after allocations by Council Member Cohen were bolstered by grants secured with the help of State Senator Klein."

"Van Cortlandt Park is a Bronx treasure. I am pleased that I was able to secure funding in this year's state budget that will help enhance the park's natural attraction to New Yorkers of all ages," said State Senator Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester). "With this new injection of funds, our partners at NYC Parks will be able to construct a new playground and make trail upgrades which will ensure that our residents continue to enjoy outdoor activities and a close connection to nature for many years to come."

"After I took office, it became a priority of mine to secure the funding to help NYC Parks create a new playground in the north-west section of Van Cortlandt Park," said Council Member Andrew Cohen. "This particular area was lacking a recreational space for the youth of the community to enjoy. I believe that this new addition, along with the improved park trails, will draw more families to this beautiful space and utilize every portion of the park. Park improvement is something I am very dedicated to and I am proud to help make this particular need for more recreational space a reality,"

"Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy is delighted at this response to the master planning process," said Conservancy President Margot Perron. "Council Member Cohen was actively a part of the process over the 18 months of meetings with our Community Council and 25 park user groups. Urban Designer Charles McKinney's methodical analysis of the park showed that there are many people in Riverdale who are not within a 10-minute walk of a playground, which is an aim of NYC Parks. Van Cortlandt doesn't have a playground on its entire west side, so this addition will really make a difference."

This playground project is funded with $775,000 allocated by Council Member Cohen in Fiscal Year 2015, and $500,000 in a Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) grant recently secured with the help of State Senator Klein. Improvements to the park's trails are funded by a separate $542,388 DASNY grant secured with the help of State Senator Klein. Later this year, Parks will host a scoping meeting with local stakeholders and user groups to determine what specific improvements should be made. After the scope of work has been set, Parks will begin the process of designing the new playground and trail improvements, and will also be able to share the preliminary project timeline.

Released in March of 2014, the Van Cortlandt Park Master Plan was created under the direction of NYC Parks Principal Urban Designer, Charles McKinney, using an analysis of the park and its users and feedback received during community meetings and design sessions. The Plan proposes projects to reunite the different sections of Van Cortlandt Park, restore the Park's natural areas and offer new recreational opportunities for parkgoers. The Master Plan will be used to guide future capital projects and is designed to be implemented over a 20-year period.

Van Cortlandt Park contains more than a thousand acres atop the ridges and valleys of the northwest Bronx, and is New York City's third largest park. Playing fields and playgrounds are scattered about the park's edges, surrounding a richly forested heartland fed by Tibbets Brook. The park is home to the country's first public golf course, the Bronx's oldest house, its largest freshwater lake and its only public ice skating rink. For more information about Van Cortlandt Park and the Van Cortlandt Park Master Plan, visit nyc.gov/parks/vancortlandt.

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