The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are very happy to announce that our January 2014 Friend of the Month is our wonderful, longtime friend- Nancy Nunez. Nancy Nunez is the Deputy Director of Youth Services for the Riverdale Neighborhood House who helped us create our Environmental Internship back in 1996 and has helped to develop and improve our program over the last 17 years. The Friends are truly lucky to work with such a wonderful person.
How and when did you get involved with the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park?
I became involved with the FVCP over 15 years ago at the time I was the Teen Program Director at Riverdale Neighborhood House. My program participants were one of the first groups of young people supporting the Friends carry out its mission of preserving and restoring Van Cortlandt Park. At that time the teens were primarily involved with keeping the park clean. However, over the years with the support of funders and dedicated professionals, the program has evolved into a comprehensive youth internship program offering teens the opportunity to be involved in their community as their learn about the field of environmental studies.
What is your favorite place in the park?
Hmm, it’s really difficult to narrow it down because there are so many including the Van Cortlandt Lake, the Van Cortlandt House Museum, the sculpture of the tortoise and the hare and then gazing across the parade grounds whenever I visit the dog park. But I must say that on snowy days as I walk by the Van Cortlandt Stables I am overwhelmed by the scenic beauty that surrounds the stables. It’s like a scene in the countryside……….right here in the Bronx!
What is your favorite memory of the Park or event you have participated in?
My family and I have lived by Van Cortlandt Park for over twenty years now and have so many wonderful memories of the Park. Birthday parties, concerts, soccer games, volunteering for park clean ups and planting trees, picnics, nature walks…..I can go on and on. But one particular event that stands out for me was our initial involvement with the development of the FVCP Garden & Compost site — located near the Van Cortlandt Stables. Back then the site was little more than a patch of untended land. It was a place that my daughter and I would often help with the weeding, planting and clean up. Whenever we walk by the area, we are amazed at how over years, FVCP has transformed the site into a beautiful space that is home to a compost demonstration site and where fresh vegetables and wildflowers thrive.
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?
● Creating more recreational programs and/or opportunities for individuals and families–i.e. bring back row boating, state of the art playground for children, indoor recreational facility, etc.
● Renovation of the existing stadium
● Dedicating a space within the park for festivals/concerts.
● Onsite eateries and/or refreshment stands
● Ongoing park maintenance and upkeep