We are very happy to announce our December 2014 Friend of the Month- Karen Argenti. If you live in the Bronx and have been involved in any environmental issues than Karen Argenti probably needs no introduction. Karen is a long-time and very close Friend of the Friends. Since shortly after our organization was founded, she has been fighting alongside us to preserve and protect Van Cortlandt Park and other natural areas of the Bronx. As a volunteer, she has spent countless hours working to make the Bronx a better place. The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are truly grateful for all of the support in so many ways that she has given in to us and other environmental organizations throughout our borough. Karen- thank you for all that you do- you are one in a million.
How and when did you get involved with the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park?
My first introduction with the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park was around 1993, when the Friends of Jerome Park Reservoir wanted to make sure that the New York City Department of Environmental Protection did not build the Filter Plant in the Reservoir. My mother, Tina Argenti was the President of the Friends of Jerome Park Reservoir at that time. The two Friends groups met monthly for years finding allies in the watershed, looking at alternative sites, reviewing the best method to treat or filter the drinking water supply, and asking questions. We learned how to read an Environmental Impact Statement. Even though we were unsuccessful in moving the site out of the Bronx, each group found new friendships that continue to this day. The Croton Water Treatment Plant stands as a memorial to the 40-acre massacre of our park to further the political power and greed struggle of the century.
What is your favorite place in the Park?
Every part of the park is a favorite place. I love the 56 acres of Freshwater wetlands including the lake and the quaint Van Cortlandt Golf House. I remember that they used to have boat rides on the lake. I have fond memories of the picnic grounds up on the big hill. But by far, my favorite place is the part that is off bounds at the site of the Third Water Tunnel. The 11 acres was taken to build the 3rd Tunnel – but it is a quiet and serene place. Up the hill is the Parks Department Nursery, which always amazes me.
What is your favorite memory of the Park or event you have participated in?
My favorite memory is the pre-Philharmonic Concert picnic on the grass with the family.
Parks just completed a Master Plan for the Park, what improvements would you like to see in Van Cortlandt Park in the next 20 years?
For each improvement, I would like to see a comprehensive green infrastructure stormwater management practice instituted. In addition, the plan should consist of a commitment to maintain the new improvement and the stormwater management facility on a regular basis. Where highways cut through the park collecting polluted water from the roadways, a system should be developed that would filter and recycle the runoff onto the Golf Courses.