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Tell the City How to Spend $30 Million on Improving St. Mary's Park

By Eddie Small | November 29, 2016 1:28pm
 The city wants to hear from the public about how it should spend $30 million to renovate St. Mary's Park.
The city wants to hear from the public about how it should spend $30 million to renovate St. Mary's Park.
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DNAinfo/Eddie Small

MOTT HAVEN — The city is looking for ideas about how to spend $30 million to upgrade St. Mary's Park.

The South Bronx green space is one of five throughout the city included in the Anchor Parks initiative, a program to invest $150 million — $30 million per site — in one large and underserved park in each borough.

The Parks Department is inviting suggestions at a public meeting on Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Betances Community Center, located at 547 E. 146th St., to solicit input from the public about what to do with the money in St. Mary's Park.

The roughly 35-acre park runs from E. 143rd Street to E. 149th Street between Jackson and St. Ann's avenue in Mott Haven and features baseball fields, an outdoor gym and a recreation center with basketball courts, tennis courts and a pool.

The other four parks receiving funds under the initiative are Highbridge Park in Manhattan, Betsy Head Park in Brooklyn, Astoria Park in Queens and Freshkills Park in Staten Island.

Bronxites have been calling for improvements to St. Mary's Park for years, and a local softball coach launched a fundraising campaign earlier this year to improve its ballfields that has so far raised $1,812 of its $2,000 goal.

Improvement efforts at all five parks should be completed by 2020 and could include features such as new hiking trails, bathrooms and sprinklers.

Mychal Johnson, a longtime environmental advocate for The Bronx, said he was thrilled that St. Mary's Park was part of the Anchor Parks initiative and hoped the city would use the $30 million to fix existing structures at the park, such as the bleachers by the ballfields.

"This is like the main park in Mott Haven and Port Morris — actually the only park we have other than the playgrounds," he said, "so I‘m glad we’re getting large sums of money to get work done there, but hopefully it will be a substantial facelift."