THE BRONX — Bronx River "Shoelace" Park got a makeover, part of a $1.46 million improvement project to increase pedestrian access at the park's southern end and link the area to adjacent riverfront parklands that lie below it.
The renovations are the latest in a larger ongoing plan to create a fully-linked Bronx River Greenway — a vision of park advocates and city officials which would create a 23-mile, continuous path along the length of the Bronx River in Westchester and The Bronx, connecting parks and other open spaces along the water via bike lanes and pedestrian walkways.
Shoelace Park, named for its skinny, narrow dimensions, stretches along the river's eastern waterfront from East 233rd Street to East 211th Stree. On Wednesday, city officials and community groups cut the ribbon on a newly-constructed, handicapped-accessible entrance at the park's south end.
"We have been able to commit more than $100 million to restore the Bronx River, and build parks and a greenway around it," Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said. "This new entrance is the latest improvement and will make Shoelace Park more attractive and more accessible to pedestrians, cyclists and boaters alike."
The new entrance features a circled seating area of benches, surrounded by newly-planted shrubs, trees and flowers, as well as the the construction of a bioswale, a landscaped trench designed to collect and drain away excess storm water.
"It's gorgeous," said Devona Sharpe, Greenway Coordinator for the Bronx River Alliance, an advocacy group that works to restore the waterway.
The project also included sidewalk improvements along the east and west of Bronx Boulevard, including new fencing, signage and stripping along the path to guide pedestrians further down the Greenway, connecting Shoelace Park to Bronx Park, another large swath of parkland to the south which is home to woodland, waterfalls, baseball fields, playgrounds and other amenities.
Sharpe said much of the Bronx portions of the Greenway is already in place, though the Alliance is working with the city and other partners to complete the missing links.
"The majority of the greenway is complete," she said. "There are a few here and there that are just awaiting renovations, but the path is there."