Tibbett’s Tail is an official New York City park, but passersby are not to blame if they never give it a second glance.
The long, thin park along Bailey Avenue south of West 238th Street is completely fenced off from the public, except for a small opening from the concrete courts of Bailey Playground. The other side of the park drops straight down to the Major Deegan Expressway. The park itself is a tangle of brush and garbage.
“What I see mostly is the potential of this space, the potential of creating a green space that’s multifunctional and can address a lot of the community needs that are really urgent right now,” said Alicia Grullon, an artist and activist who lives in Van Cortlandt Village and grew up near Tibbett’s Tail.
Ms. Grullon said she discussed the idea of cleaning up the park a few years ago with some other parents in the neighborhood, but nothing came of it. Then came the People’s Climate March in September 2014. During the flurry of activity leading up to the protest, and the march itself, Ms. Grullon met like-minded activists from the northwest Bronx, including members of the recently formed Bronx Climate Justice North (BCJN).
“Just because you live somewhere all your life, doesn’t mean everyone shares the same vision. So I think it was due to the People’s Climate March that I was able to just meet people who shared the same vision as I for creating a Bronx that’s really for the people who live here, who invest their time here and just aren’t speculating their time here,” she said.
Late last year, Ms. Grullon spearheaded a movement to start the Friends of Tibbett’s Tail, whose purpose is to revitalize the forgotten park. Earlier this month, with help from Partnerships for Parks, Friends of Van Cortlandt Park and BCJN, the group held a clean-up event in which volunteers cleared away brush and garbage from part of the site.
“I’m so happy to see that our work has not been tampered with. That’s the cleanest I’ve ever seen it,” said Ms. Grullon, gesturing to the park. “It’s just always been wooded and overgrown and it hadn’t changed in such a long time. I think this is the biggest change I’ve seen to it in all those years.”