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Bronxites Angered Over Locked, Fenced-Off Park Land

By Eddie Small | December 8, 2014 7:21am
 Community members are calling for improvements and accessibility at Cpl. Fischer Park.
Cpl. Fischer Park
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HIGHBRIDGE — Fix this park.

That's what angry neighbors say about a fenced-off, padlocked and derelict Bronx plot named for a World War II hero.

Cpl. Fischer Park, located on Nelson Avenue between West 170th and West 169th streets, is a locked, 0.57-acre green space that is completely surrounded by a fence and pockmarked with trash. It consists of a small grassy lawn that slopes downhill into a wooded area.

"I call it 'the park that isn’t,' because it’s never been a park," said John Howard-Algarin, parks committee chairman of Bronx Community Board 4, at a recent meeting. "It's just a gated green land that people can look at and walk past."

People have been trying to get the space open for years, although there is not very much that they would be able to do there in its current condition apart from possibly holding a picnic on the grass, Howard-Algarin said.

Tasha Addison, 15, who lives near the park, said neighborhood children need a green space.

"It will keep the kids out of the hallways," she said. "It would be nice for [children of] other buildings, too."

Alice Ramirez, a school counselor who works nearby the park, also encouraged the city to do something with the vacant land.

"I hope that they do put something here that's creative," she said. "That would benefit the community because right now this is an empty space."

The space is meant to honor Cpl. Irwin A. Fischer, a New Yorker who served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and flew in locations including Iwo Jima, the Philippines and Saipan.

The Parks Department has owned the lot for about six years and keeps it locked all the time because it is undeveloped, according to agency spokesman Sam Biederman.

Although there are no renovations currently scheduled for Cpl. Fischer, the department is sending out staffers to determine what challenges would be involved with improving the space, and the agency still maintains it on a regular basis, Biederman said.

"It’s true that it is an undeveloped park," he said, "but we go inside the park weekly to remove debris, take care of trees and shrubbery, trim the grass during the summer."

Howard-Algarin wants the Parks Department to better prioritize renovations.

"We’re trying to leverage some equitable distribution of funds to The Bronx, which has been greatly underserved in terms of money and parks," he said.

The Parks Department is eager to hear input from the neighborhood about what to do with Cpl. Fischer and other green spaces in The Bronx, Biederman said.

"If the community has thoughts about this park and how it could be used, we are of course open to hearing them," he said.