The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are happy to announce our November 2016 Friend of the Month- Nilka Martell. Nilka is an active volunteer and advocate for not only Van Cortlandt Park but for all of our Bronx Parks. In 2010, Nilka founded G.I.V.E (Getting Involved, Virginia Avenue Efforts) and ever since she’s been a strong fighter for our Parks. In addition to Van Cortlandt Park, Nilka can often be found volunteering with the Bronx River Alliance and the Friends of Pelham Bay. She is co-chair of the Bronx Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces and helps plan the annual Bronx Parks Speak Up (save the date- February 25th, 2017). Nilka Martell is a true friend for Bronx Parks and for that the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are truly grateful.
What is your favorite place in the Park?
Ahhhh, the park is so magical, it is hard to pick just one place. But since I love to walk, it has to be the many trails within the park. You can walk for hours, surrounded by nature, and totally forget that you are really in an urban city.
What is your favorite memory of the Park or event you have participated in?
My favorite memory of the park took place in Sept, 2012. Kristopher Morgan Powell invited a few of us to a tour of the Old Croton Aqueduct. We started at High Bridge, and ended at the Weir Building within Van Cortlandt Park. At that time there was ongoing construction, and we were able to see an underground valve. While I have many great memories in the park, that day is etched in my mind.
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?
I’m most concerned with clear connecting paths with signage. Even with a map, I’ve managed to get lost in the park. With a park so vast, connecting links to the trails is important so that everyone could explore and enjoy this amazing park to the fullest.