Bronx wasteland turned into beach park

A contaminated waterfront area of the Bronx has been turned into a five-acre park as part of New York City's $462m campaign to improve the area's green spaces.

Five acres of contaminated land along the coast of South Bronx were turned into Baretto Point Park, compete with a small beach and luscious lawn, in a spot that was once wasteland punctuated by waste-treatment plants and manufacturing works.

Community groups like Sustainable South Bronx are aiding the regeneration effort and have helped convince the authorities to give the borough’s residents access to the coast, so far mostly fenced off.

The creation of Baretto Point Park cost the city $7.2m, with mayor Michael Bloomberg providing $5.3, and involved clearing the mix of rubbish and abundant weeds covering the area as well as covering the area’s contaminated land with a layer of topsoil.

The once derelict area plagued by drugs and prostitution now boasts a sandy cove with view of the bird sanctuary on North Brother Island, an amphitheatre, and native plants such as sumac and rugosa roses that the Bronx coastline will not have seen for many decades.

Despite the improvement, challenges remain for groups like Sustainable South Bronx. The idyllic park is still surrounded by industrial buildings, with a fertiliser factory and waste plant in the vicinity.

Urban space pressures have also led to plans to further build up the coastline, including a jail just down the coast from the park.

More information on Sustainable South Bronx can be found here.

Goska Romanowicz

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