The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are excited to announce our March 2015 Friend of the Month — Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz. Assemblyman Dinowitz has represented our beloved Park for almost all of the Friends’ existence. Jeff has always been a strong and vocal supporter of green space — especially Van Cortlandt Park. We always appreciate that he adopted our mission to protect and preserve the Park. He has even been known to get his hands dirty by helping to plant trees and bulbs. The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are truly thankful for all of the support that Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz has given us and other community groups in the 81st Assembly District. He is really a Friend of the Month!
How and when did you get involved with the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park?
I’ve been a strong supporter of the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park for many years. We in the Northwest Bronx are extremely fortunate to have this beautiful public green space – New York City’s third-largest park – in our backyard, and I think the numerous service projects, activities, and events the Friends organize each year help many in our community better understand and appreciate this treasured resource.
What is your favorite place in the Park?
The Parade Grounds. In a city as densely populated as New York, it’s refreshing to see such an expanse of open space. And on any given day, the fields are destinations for runners, ballplayers, kite-fliers, and more.
What is your favorite memory of the Park or event you have participated in?
Having grown up in Kingsbridge, attended junior high school, high school, and college in the neighborhood, and settled in Riverdale, I have fond memories of visiting the park dating back to softball games, sleigh rides, and school field trip hikes during my childhood. As an elected official, I fought for years alongside many other members of the community against the multi-billion dollar boondoggle that is the Croton Filtration Plant. Parks are meant to be accessible to and enjoyed by the public, not locations for oversized industrial facilities.
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?
The Van Cortlandt Park Master Plan laid out a number of interesting, necessary proposals for the park that I am optimistic will be implemented over the coming years. I would like to eliminate or minimize the impact of non-park-related facilities such as the Filtration Plant and the DOT complex on Mosholu Avenue, to prevent further commercialization of this natural space, to see further improvements to the walking, running, and biking trails throughout the park, and to keep the park’s ballfields and recreational spaces in the best possible condition.