CLAREMONT — A cafe, a dog run and a skate park are on the way to Crotona Park, as part of a project to spruce up the park space.
The Parks Department recently unveiled a draft of several renovations it hopes to make to Crotona and Tremont Park over the next 20 years, which would cost a total of $74.3 million. The master plan describes Crotona as a green space with almost limitless potential that is comparable to some of the most famed parks in the city.
"It has the topography that it similar to both Central Park and Prospect Park," the plan reads, "but never had a landscape plan that amplifies the unique character of its specific areas or provides seasonal beauty."
The plan covers a 20 year period to help ensure that enough funding will be available for all the projects it includes, according to Charles McKinney, principal urban designer with the Parks Department.
"We get our money from our elected officials," he said, "and they have many different priorities."
The plan lists challenges with Crotona and Tremont Park that include a confusing path system disrupted by roads, poorly lit areas and a lack of facilities for seniors and teenagers. It suggests installing additional lighting, creating a scenic running and walking loop, and restoring the pool house at Crotona Park to make it available for year-round use.
Funding has already been allocated for renovating the roof, mezzanine and clock tower of the pool house, and money is also available for installing additional lighting and security cameras. The restoration of Crotona Park's nature center is already underway as well, and the Parks Department hopes to get funding for improved sports fields included in next year's City Council budget.
Crotona's new dog run would be built by the sitting area at Hylan Park, while the skate park would go in just south of the swimming pool. It wasn't clear when those new amenities would open.
Henry Peña, who owns the nearby HeavenBound7 skateboard shop, was very enthusiastic about the possibility of a skate park coming to Crotona, as he said the boarders he works with need a place to go skate.
"They have one at Allerton Avenue. They have one at Throgs Neck. They have one at Riverbank," he said. "In this local area, there are none."
The skate park and café will both likely be included in the first five years of the master plan.
"Certainly, they’re a high priority in the community," McKinney said. "But it is dependent on the Council funding."
The master plan also calls for a new picnic house and track at Crotona, as well as construction of a pedestrian bridge going across Crotona Avenue south of the Cary Leeds tennis center.
"The bridge is sited to provide a continuous scenic route through the park for walkers and runners," the plan reads. "A scenic loop, which is lit at night, is of paramount importance for exercise and for traversing the park."
Restoring Indian Lake in Crotona Park is part of the plan as well, as it currently suffers from an excessive amount of algae that is compromising the beauty of the water and likely the health of its ecosystem, according to the city.
"When we have a major event in Crotona Park, I don’t particularly care to look from the boathouse out onto the lake and see a mat of green," he said. "I want to see it clear and pristine."
McKinney said he was extremely optimistic about what Crotona Park could become.
"There is every reason to believe it could be as beautiful as Prospect Park," he said.