Friend of the Month- October 2015

Jane Sokolow, former Friends' board member and current Advisory Committee member, is our October 2015 Friend of the Month.

Jane Sokolow, former Friends’ board member and current Advisory Committee member, is our October 2015 Friend of the Month.

The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are happy to announce that our October 2015 Friend of the Month is Jane Sokolow. Jane has been a friend of the organization since the beginning as an original board over member. Jane works as an independent consultant in community greening and zoning projects and interpretive science writing. She currently serves on the Friends’ Advisory Committee of the Board where she has provided valuable expertise to the Friends’ Executive Director and Board of Directors as needed. The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are lucky to call Jane Sokolow a great friend.

How and when did you get involved with the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park?
I was one of the original founding board members of the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park in 1992. I was a Board member for 14 years. I remain involved and available to the Executive Director and staff as an advisor and resource. Read more »

Friend of the Month- September 2015

Our September 2015 Friend of the Month Billy Feerick helping to promote our Norwood market.

Our September 2015 Friend of the Month Billy Feerick helping to promote our Norwood market.

The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are happy to announce our September 2015 Friend of the Month- Billy Feerick. Billy has spent the last two summer’s working with the Friends Youth Run Farm Stand Internship- helping customers select and purchase fresh locally grown produce and leading cooking demonstrations to introduce the community to new healthy eating options. Billy always comes to work with a smile on his face and his co-workers and our customers always look forward to seeing him at the farm stand. As Billy begins his Junior year at Xavier High School, he isn’t able to continue the program with us during the fall so we will miss him but are looking forward to seeing him in the Park sometime soon.

 

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Friend of the Month- June 2015

Our June 2015 Friend of the Month, Dart Westphal at our 2013 Picnic Supper and Concert with his wife, Ellen Pollan.

Our June 2015 Friend of the Month, Dart Westphal at our 2013 Picnic Supper and Concert with his wife, Ellen Pollan.

The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are thrilled to announce that our June Friend of the Month is Dart Westphal. Over the years, Dart has been a true friend to all Bronx Parks and an advocate for the betterment of the borough. Dart is a former board member of the Friends who served for over a decade and continues to support the Park in many ways. He was an advocate for the Pedestrian Bridge over the Major Deegan- he even wrote and sang our theme song for the rally last year. We are pleased that he will be honored and officially thanked at our Picnic Supper the evening of the Philharmonic later this month.

How and when did you get involved with the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park?
I got involved with the Friends because I was invited by some of the founding Board Members. I both lived and worked in neighborhoods on different sides of the park so I was familiar with Van Corltandt and used it a lot with my family. When they told me it “needed Friends” I signed right up. Read more »

The Pedestrian Bridge: A Broken Promise, Finally Made Right

Pedestrian Bridge Press Conference

From left to right: Congressman Eliot Engel, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Councilman Andrew Cohen, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd, DDC Commissioner Feniosky Pena-Mora, Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, Bronx Borough Ruben Diaz Jr. and Senator Jeffrey Klein.

On the afternoon May 8th, 2015, a press conference was held in the parking lot of Shandler Recreation Area to announce that $12 million has been allocated for a pedestrian bridge that will span the Major Deegan Expressway (I-87) and finally bring the western and eastern halves of the Park together. The Pedestrian Bridge is one of three bridges that are identified in the 2014 Van Cortlandt Park Master Plan to connect our divided park and undo decades of damage caused by highways that divided the park. The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park have advocated for funding for this first bridge since 1999 and it has been a cornerstone of an overall campaign to secure full funding for the entire Master Plan.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks) will each invest $4 million to construct the bridge, and the remaining $4 million will be paid for with state funds. NYC Councilman Andrew Cohen and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz played key roles in securing the City funding. State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, other members of Assembly Bronx Delegation and State Senator Jeffrey Klein played key roles in securing the State funds. Read more »

Friend of the Month- May 2015

Congressman Eliot Engel, in the middle, at last year's Trail Master Killah race in Van Cortlandt Park.

Congressman Eliot Engel, in the middle, at last year’s Trail Master Killah race in Van Cortlandt Park.

The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are pleased to announce that our May 2015 Friend of the Month is Congressman Eliot Engel. Congressman Engel has always been an active supporter of parkland, especially those in his district which includes all of Van Cortlandt Park. The Friends are most thankful for the Congressman supporting the very first professional Trails Crew for the Park. He has also been an advocate for the Pedestrian Bridge over the Major Deegan. We are pleased that he will be honored and officially thanked at our Picnic Supper the evening of the Philharmonic next month.

How and when did you get involved with the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park?
My good friend, Marcia Allina, who is a long-time member of the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, first introduced me to the group years ago. I had also heard great things about the innovative work FVCP had been doing from various other members of the community. I have always been proud of my lifetime record in Congress on environmental matters. As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over environmental legislation, I have always been engaged in these issues. I am pleased to have received high marks from the League of Conservation Voters over my career. The preservation of our parklands and greenways has always been a passion and priority of mine. As such, I knew FVCP was an organization I wanted to work with to help keep the Bronx as green as possible. Read more »

John Muir Trail: Upcoming Projects

A few of our Trails Crew members after installing check dams on the John Muir Trail in Van Cortlandt Park last fall.

A few of our Trails Crew members after installing check dams on the John Muir Trail last fall.

The John Muir trail, established back in 1997 through a joint effort of the Van Cortlandt Park Rangers and the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park interns, is currently the only east-west traversing trail in the Park connecting Woodlawn to Riverdale. A couple of short sections of the trail wind along and below the Henry Hudson Parkway and the Major Deegan but for the majority of the John Muir trail, it holds true to its namesake. The trail runs alongside a cascading stream and through Sugar Maple forests of the Croton Woods. Pink blazes on the trees mark the running of the trail.

In 2011, the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park secured funding to hire the New York/ New Jersey Trail Conference to install the stone stairs you see on the trail as it runs beside the Henry Hudson Parkway. Last year, the FVCP Summer Teen Trail Interns worked on the drainage of the trail as it runs alongside the golf fence to halt erosion that had created gullies in the trail. They also annually keep the trail open and wide enough for trail users to comfortably walk the trail. Read more »