We are happy to announce that our March 2014 Friend of the Month is Bob Bender, Parks Committee Chair of Bronx Community Board 8. He has been a devoted supporter of the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park for many years and in many ways. Currently, Bob has been actively working with the Friends to organize the demonstration and press event on March 29th to promote the need for the DEP to keep its promise to build the Croton Pedestrian Bridge over the Major Deegan. We are truly luckily to have him in our corner and look forward to working with him in the future.
How and when did you get involved with the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park?
I first became aware of the Friends when I joined the Parks & Recreation Committee of Community Board 8 in 2006. I was delighted to know that there was a group that was so active and so committed to Van Cortlandt Park. I’m still delighted by that.
What is your favorite place in the Park?
This is a hard question to answer because there are so many wonderful spots in the park. I like the Putnam Trail (when it isn’t soggy), the bike route across the park to Mosholu Parkway, the Parade Grounds, where I coached local baseball teams for several years, the Memorial Grove with its tranquility and significance, and so many other places. But I would have to give special recognition to the cross-country trail, where I like to run in the mornings.
What is your favorite memory of the Park or event you have participated in?
I love the New York Philharmonic concert in the summer. A hot day is cooling off, the sun is going down, you eat an al fresco dinner, and you listen to wonderful music. How can you beat that?
Parks is currently working on a Master Plan for the Park, what improvements would you like to see in Van Cortlandt Park in the next 20 years?
Pedestrian bridges to re-unite the parts of the park that have been sliced up by highways are at the top of my list. We should add more recreational facilities to the perimeter of the park to serve the many people who live near the park. We need information kiosks to show people how to get around the park. And I hope that sometime soon we can fix the Putnam Trail so that it is more accessible to everyone in all seasons. But most of all we need more money for maintenance in Van Cortlandt and all our other parks.