Children play on the swings in St Mary's Playground West this past weekend in front of the rundown basketball court.
Children play on the swings in St Mary’s Playground West this past weekend in front of the rundown basketball court. Rusted equipment and chain-link fencing is common site in the playground and throughout the park.

St. Mary’s Park in Mott Haven, the recreational heart for thousands of residents of the South Bronx, is getting a face-lift thanks to $1.5 million in funds allocated by New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito who’s district covers the park.

The monies will be used to reconstruct the western playground area along St. Ann’s Avenue and the community is being invited to contribute their visions and ideas for their park on Wednesday, March 4th between 6pm – 8pm at Heketi Community Charter School.

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St. Mary’s Park has long suffered a state of neglect with garbage littering everywhere as there are few garbage cans — and staff to keep up with the amount of people that utilize the park.  This was the subject of an article in the Wall Street Journal last year as a report by New Yorkers for Parks gave the park an acceptable rating of 59% out of standard of 85% (check out their full report here in PDF format).

Parents and children alike were delighted to hear about renovations to the playground. 3 local high school kids, who were playing on the dilapidated playground swings, said they would like to see more swings and the park to look nicer.

“I come here with my friends all the time after school and sometimes on weekends,” said one young teen who wished to remain anonymous.  “I’m glad the city is doing this for the kids because we need it”, he added.

“Saint Mary’s Park is a treasured part of the South Bronx and a beloved destination for the community,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I’m proud to fund renovations and improvements to St Mary’s Playground so that families from the Bronx and all over New York City can continue to enjoy this wonderful public space for years to come.” the Speaker told Welcome2TheBronx.

Local residents gathered at the park last year to celebrate the upcoming Puerto Rican Day Parade.  St. Mary’s Park is a meeting place that is a reflection of the tapestry of all the various ethnic groups that make up the neighborhood.

The 35 acre park is filled with history and is one of the six original parks created in The Bronx.  In 1914, when Bronx County was born as the 5th county of New York City and the last and 62nd county created in New York State, St Mary’s was home to the first playground in the borough.  Fast forward to 1951 and the park made history again, this time housing New York City’s FIRST full service indoor recreational center.

Don’t forget, you have an opportunity to leave your legacy at St. Mary’s Park, thanks to the Speaker’s funding, by helping in the visioning of what the playground reconstruction should look like.

‘Re-invent St. Mary’s Park’ will be held on Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 from 6pm – 8pm at Heketi Community Charter School located at 403 Concord Avenue in The Bronx (enter on E 144th Street between Concord and Jackson Avenues).  Dinner will be served and, of course, kids are welcome!  There will also be Spanish translators on hand.

If you have any questions regarding this event, please call 718-430-4641 or email barbara.nikonorow@parks.nyc.gov

 

 
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