Hudson Heights Weather

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bennett Park Improvements Are Welcome

Bennett Park at Fort Washington Avenue and 184th Street is the site of some substantial Revolutionary War history.  A fort at this location overlooked the Hudson River (no longer visible from the spot today) and was part of the patriot's losing effort to hold Manhattan against the British in 1776.  Today, the site is home to a small, attractive and heavily-used park.  A subtle outline of cobblestones marks the location of the fort and a plaque on Fort Washington Avenue memorializes the site's story.  A rock outcropping in the center is the highest natural point on Manhattan.

The NYC Department of Parks & Recreation has reportedly decided to undertake a major renovation of the  park, which  is long overdue.  There are many competing uses for this small space, including the senior citizens that enjoy the benches and quiet, the young children who enjoy playground equipment and the teens that use the southern half for sports.

According to a flyer from the Parks Department, the renovation will do the following:  (1) better mark the location of the fort; (2) improve the central playing field; (3) carve out a green lawn; (4) create a quieter area of benches.   A second phase would include upgrades for persons with disabilities.

One apparent omission in the plan are improvements to the landscaped perimeter of the park, which desperately needs attention.  Also, the Parks Department has not identified funding for the second phase of the project.

This author is a aware of several federal and state grants that might provide funding for additional improvements at Bennett Park; hopefully they will be explored.  The site's history and link to George Washington also make it a good candidate for funding and attention from national organizations that promote awareness of Revolutionary War history.  Hopefully these sources of funding will also be explored.

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