1992- Friends are Formed
Felicity Nitz started the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park with the help of other concerned community members.
1994- First Compost Demonstration Center
In 1994, FVCP partnered with Bronx Green-up to create an educational site for community members to learn the basics of composting. Situated in the northwest corner of Van Cortlandt Park near the Riding Stables, the site recycles hundreds of pounds of natural materials into fertile soil each year.
1996- Saturn Playground
In 1996, FVCP recruited volunteers and secured funding to install a playground in the southeast corner of Van Cortlandt, which serves the mostly densely populated community that surrounds the park. This playground was called Saturn playground, and has since been replced by Sachkerah Woods Playground.
1997- Cross Country Course
This nationally recognized running trail was restored in 1997, thanks to FVCP securing $249,000 from the ISTEA (Intermodal State Transportation Efficiency Act).
1997- Grand Arch Entrance
FVCP, working with the Harvard School of Design, successfully advocated for the creation of an inviting, well-defined entrance to the southwest corner of the park. Unveiled in 1997, it has spray showers, play units, basketball courts, and a signature coyote statue.
1998- Restoration of Old Tibbetts Brook Wetland
In 1998, FVCP helped to secure $250,000 from the Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act to reestablish the wetland as a more diverse and healthier habitat for muskrats, wood ducks and red-winged blackbirds and numerous other native species that call it home.
1999- Croton Woods is Saved
FVCP successfully advocated for the filtration plant to be moved out of the Croton Woods to another spot within the park, but located underground. The plan included protection of the surrounding wetlands, a barrier around the construction site, and traffic changes.
2001- John Muir Trail
FVCP’s high school interns created the only pathway that goes connects the Eastern and Western ends of the Park. Completed in 2001, the 1.7 mile trail runs from Riverdale to Woodlawn.
2002- Education Programs Begin
FVCP launched its free educational programs for school groups called Van Cortlandt Adventures, starting with just a handful of local classrooms. Today, FVCP provides these programs, ranging from Freshwater Ecology to Forester for a Day to Garden Explorations, for around 2,500 public school students a year.
2002- Van Cortlandt Lake Restoration
FVCP advocated for $1.8 million in funding to improve this freshwater lake, the largest in the Bronx. The project was completed in 2002 and involved dredging the lake, installation of sediment tanks to help capture runoff from the highway, and the installation of boulders along the edge to prevent erosion.
2003- Croton Extension Trail Improvements
During the summers of 2002 and 2003, FVCP’s high school interns reestablished this overgrown walkway which allows hikers to follow the true path of the Croton Aqueduct from Van Cortlandt Park to Jerome Park Reservoir.
2004- $220 million for Capital Projects in Bronx Parks
FVCP played a major role in the law suit over the building of the Filtration Plant in Van Cortlandt Park which resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2004 that included the NYC Department of Environmental Protection funding major improvements to Bronx Parks.
2007- Design for the Southeast Corner
As part of a joint effort, FVCP worked with Mosholu Montefiore Community Center and the community surrounding the park to create a redesign for the southeast corner of Van Cortlandt. In 2007, the Parks Department utilized these suggestions when designing Sachkerah Woods Playground and the Southeast Corner Projects, which were the first completed projects of
2009- Trails Plan for the Park
FVCP hired the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, a nonprofit dedicated to maintaining over 1800 miles of trails in the New York metropolitan area, to conduct an assessment, analysis, and set of recommendations with the goal of improving the woodland trails in Van Cortlandt Park. The study took about a year and was completed in 2009.
2010- Vegetable Beds at Compost Site
FVCP installed a garden at the compost site. By 2015 the beds grew to over 800 feet with an expansion. With help from volunteers, FVCP grows more than 250 pounds of produce each year that go directly to local food pantries.
2011- First Hike-a-Thon
FVCP hosted it’s first Hike-a-thon to raise funding to help implement our Trails Plan and to highlight way VCP is Where NYC Hikes. In 2016, FVCP revamped this event into a successful Hike-toberfest.
2011- 52 Stone Steps and Boardwalks
FVCP implemented the first project in its Trail Plan by funding the installation of beautiful stone steps along the John Muir Trail, allowing hikers to safely transverse one of the park’s most popular trails.
2012- 100th Anniversary of Cross Country Trail
FVCP commemorated and honored the history of our Park’s famous cross country course with a 5 kilometer race. Over 140 runners participated in the event to celebrate 100 years of cross country racing at the Park, which hosted its first slate of running competition at the historic course in the Fall of 1912.
2012- Youth Run Farm Stands
In 2012, FVCP began hosting a Youth Run Farm Stand providing locally grown produce at affordable prices for a food desert in the Bronx. The next year, we began partnering with GrowNYC and expanded two locations.
2012- Trails Restoration Crew
FVCP secured $144,000 in funding from Congressman Eliot Engel which was directed to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation allowing them to hire a seasonal trails crew of four to complete projects in our Trails Plan in 2012 and 2013. Then, in 2014, FVCP hired its own Trails Project Manager to continue projects on the trails.
2015- Pedestrian Bridge
In the Spring of 2015, it was announced $12 million was 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. FVCP have advocated for funding for this first bridge since 1999
2016- Tibbetts Brook Water Quality Monitoring
In 2016, FVCP completed one year of weekly water quality monitoring of Tibbetts Brook and Van Cortlandt Lake alongside community members to better understand the impact of humans on one of the last above ground streams in New York City. This project was done in partnership with Manhattan College, Bronx Council for Environmental Quality, USGS and others.