WASHINGTON HEIGHTS – What can $30 million do to improve Highbridge Park?
Parks Department and elected officials are inviting avid users of the park, local residents and kids to a “Community Visioning Session” Monday night to share their ideas, concerns and different ways to renovate Highbridge Park.
Highbridge, a 130-acre park that stretches from 155th to Dyckman streets, is one of five parks in the city slated to get $30 million under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $150 million “Anchor Parks” initiative.
The program will provide much-needed improvements and amenities to underserved parks by 2020, including adding new bathrooms, improved hiking trails, soccer fields, water fountains and sprinklers for children, officials said during the announcement.
Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who oversees the area where the parks is located, said the visioning session will take community feedback seriously.
"NYC Parks will take in the many suggestions from the community and work to put together a plan that realizes the most impactful and feasible of these suggestions," Rodriguez said, adding that for the community this initiative was a "major recognition recognition of the still-untapped value of Highbridge Park and how, as a neighborhood, we should seize the opportunity to really take ownership of this resource."
Denise Lauffer, a local advocate for Highbridge Park, said she would like to see several improvements in the park, including adding lights along the stretch of the park from Dyckman Street to the 181st Street bridge and repairing the dilapidated stairways.
"Both set of stairs/entrances on 183rd Street and 186th Street at Laurel Terrace are closed, because the stairs are collapsing," Lauffer said. "The path entrances at 190th Street and Dyckman have poles locked in to prevent cars from driving on the foot path. This is keeping the police from patrolling the park."
Lauffer said she would also like to see both the Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) and NYPD increase their patrols along the stretch between 190th and Dyckman streets.
The PEP currently parks their trailer headquarters for all their Northern Manhattan patrols inside Highbridge Park.
Still, it has remained a hot spot for crime in the past two years. Last month, several elected officials got together to demand increased security in the park following a shooting death inside one of the park’s playgrounds.
"It's such a beautiful park," Lauffer said. "[It] just needs to be safe."
The visioning session will take place Monday, Nov. 28 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the disability-accessible Highbridge Recreation Center on 2301 Amsterdam Ave. off 173rd Street. Spanish translators will be present.