Park lovers in the Bronx are calling on the city's Department of Environmental Protection to fund construction on a pedestrian bridge over the Major Deegan Expressway in Van Cortlandt Park. Mahsa Saeidi filed the following report.
There's no denying the beauty of Van Cortlandt Park. Those who love it say there's just one problem:
"The Major Deegan Expressway runs right through part of our park,” said Terry Grant Stoeth of Friends of Van Cortlandt Park.
"It would be wonderful to run across this park, to walk across this park,” said Community Board 8 Parks & Recreation Committee chair Bob Bender.
"East and west are totally separate at this point, we don't know our friends on the east side of the Bronx, we're going to meet them for the first time today,” said Community Board 8 chair Bob Fanuzzi.
Despite the rain and chilly weather, park goers came together to highlight the broken link and to push for a solution: a pedestrian bridge over the Major Deegan expressway.
"This is where the bridge would go, essentially connecting this trail with that trail,” said Grant Stoeth.
Folks met up on both sides of the expressway along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail to hold their signs, and create a virtual bridge.
Our trek up to the proposed site wasn't easy. Tom Carey, Friends of Van Cortlandt Park board member, says that's why folks stick to their side of the park.
"So if you wanted to cross the park, you could either take this treacherous road up that we did,” he said. "Or go through the tunnels, neither of those ways is really good, and people just stop, they just don't do it."
Meanwhile at a news conference, advocates chanted, “Keep the promise! Build the bridge!"
As part of a deal to build a controversial water treatment facility in the park, the Department of Environmental Protection agreed to do a feasibility study on a pedestrian bridge. Although the report deemed it technically feasible.
"The DEP responded and said it's not feasible, we don't want to spend the money, we don't have the money,” said Christina Taylor, executive director of the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park.
In response, the DEP says their focus is on keeping the quality drinking water high and the water bills low. That means being very careful about how it spends its budget.
Residents say they not rest until the pedestrian bridge is somehow funded, and their communities united.