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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Petition calls for end to neglect of Ewen Park

By Maya Rajamani
Posted
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Julia Gran, 53, stands in part of Ewen Park where erosion has taken its toll on what was once a grassy knoll on Monday.

Maryann Monte, 73 and Julia Gran, 53, strolled through Ewen Park on Monday morning pointing out signs of erosion, crumbling infrastructure and heaps of trash at the steeply sloping 7.84-acre site.

The women are part of the Conservation Action Committee (CAC), a group of residents interested in the well-being of the area’s local parks. They are currently circulating a petition requesting city funding for maintenance and erosion issues in the park, which has received about 200 signatures so far.

On their inspection tour, the pair noted that the retaining wall near the stairs leading from the intersection of West 232nd Street and Johnson Avenue into the park had visibly crumbled. Next to the basketball courts, heaps of trash surrounded a single, open-top garbage can.

Lack of adequate drainage has contributed to a serious erosion problem while heavy use of  the park’s step street as a thoroughfare from Johnson Avenue to West 231st Street and Riverdale Avenue has contributed to a problem with garbage, rats and other scavengers, according to Ms. Gran.

Despite the heavy use, the park has no bathrooms or water fountains. 

“For Riverdale, Kingsbridge and Marble Hill, the parks are everything for people that live here,” Ms. Gran said.

“It doesn’t have its own budget, so we go begging,” Ms. Monte added.

After meeting with a Parks Department representative and Councilman Andy Cohen, the CAC said the department promised to be more responsive to 311 calls about garbage removal, and graffiti, and would allocate funding for new, stationary trash cans.

While maintenance and erosion issues have gone unattended, the Parks Department has allocated funding for a capital project in Ewen Park that includes a newly renovated basketball court and a playground for children — known as a “tot lot.”

Parks Department spokesperson Nathan Arnosti said the body plans to install three new steel trashcans near the basketball courts. 

Final contract documents for the courts and the tot lot capital project will be completed in June, and construction is set to begin in the spring of 2015. 

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