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City Wants to Meet Kids Whose Efforts to Beautify Park Were Painted Over

By Eddie Small | September 26, 2014 7:42am
 The Parks Department has called for a meeting to resolve the situation in Unity Park.
The Parks Department has called for a meeting to resolve the situation in Unity Park.
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Renaissance Youth Center

MORRISANIA — This time, they're not getting the brush off.

The Parks Department wants to sit down with the Bronx youth group that helped fix up and paint Rev. Lena Irons Unity Park only to have the agency paint over their work weeks later.

Bronx Parks Commissioner Hector Aponte has called for a meeting to resolve issues arising after the beautification effort last month by the Renaissance Youth Center, according to Bronx Community Board 3 District Manager John Dudley.

Kids from the youth center painted the park walls salmon in mid-August at a cost of nearly $2,000, but on Sept. 20, the Parks Department painted over their work in gray, a move that greatly upset the young workers.

The agency said it had received complaints about the paint job, which needed to be gray for uniformity purposes, said Eduardo Hernandez, administrative parks and recreation manager for the district that includes Unity Park.

The kids had permission to fix up the park but were never told that they couldn't use the salmon color.

Dudley received a call from the Parks Department on Thursday about trying to set up a meeting with all concerned parties to resolve the situation in Unity Park.

"I’m hopeful that that call that I got is an indication that we can resolve a color scheme," Dudley said.

Bervin Harris, co-executive director of the youth center, said the meeting would include representatives from the Parks Department, the Renaissance Youth Center and its parent alliance, the community board and Bert Irons, son of the park's namesake and chairman of the board of trustees at the Evangelical Church of God, which is located across from the park.

Harris said he planned on bringing kids from the youth center to the meeting as well.

Irons had criticized the salmon color as inappropriate but said a meeting could potentially resolve the situation.

"It may help if the Parks Department is there itself," he said. "That might help."

The Parks Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Harris said he did not know yet when or where the meeting would take place, but he was hopeful that it would solve the painting controversy.

"I am optimistic that it will lead to something good. Yes, very much so," said Harris. "And actually, maybe even hopefully something larger."