Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Owen Dolen groundbreaking

Here's another story from this week's Bronx Press. Last week, community leaders rejoiced during a groundbreaking ceremony in Westchester Square's Owen Dolen Park. 

By Brendan McHugh 

Improving a triangular park is a step towards revitalizing Westchester Square. 

Local pols and community members were thrilled last week to break ground on a $5 million reconstruction of Owen Dolen Park, a necessary process in erasing memories of a once derelict area.

“We want the square to comeback,” Vacca said. He allocated $4.5 million and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. allocated the additional half-million.
The reconstruction of Owen Dolen Park is a major
step in the revitalization of Westchester Square.
“We always had things to do in Westchester Square,” Vacca said, reminiscing about all the things he used to do as a child, including going to the library, the local shops and restaurants and more to the point, just enjoying the area.

“We can bring that back if we do it right,” he added, noting plans to bring a library to the area. “We can very truly say that Westchester Square has good days ahead.”

The funding will expand the public plaza and repave many of the paths and sidewalks. New fencing, benches and landscaping will also be added along with better drainage, water lines and hydrants. A drinking fountain will be added. In addition, new lighting and electrical service for outdoor events will be built.

Jump below for the rest of the story.

The square’s business community has been organizing itself into a business improvement district, which merchant leader John Bonizio hopes to have completed by Jan. 1, 2012. 

“This park has always been the diamond in the rough of Westchester Square,” Bonizio said. “It is the jewel at the center of our community and today’s groundbreaking is a symbol the rebirth that Westchester Square is about to go through with the business improvement district.” 
Vacca allocated $4.5 million for the park.

The BID will be the Bronx’s ninth. 

“This is a beginning of a larger strategic plan,” Diaz said of the park’s reconstruction. “When it’s all said and done, we want this to be the center attraction for Westchester Square…It's going to be the mecca, the hub - it's going to be a catalyst," he added. 

Diaz was once a student at the neighboring Lehman High School. Part of the recent efforts to clean up the area and make it more business-friendly was to keep the thousands of students on campus for lunch rather than let them roam the streets all day long. 

“When complete, Owen Dolen will contain a large plaza, several performance areas, and additional green space, all of which will ensure that the park remains a community oasis for years to come,” parks commissioner Adrian Benepe said.

Parks’ designer Gustavo Frindt designed the project. The contractor for the project will be Kelco Landscaping and Construction. 

The park was named after Owen Dolen, a life-long Bronxite, in 1926. Dolen died of a heart attack a year earlier after he gave a 25-minute speech in the park during an unveiling of a memorial honoring soldiers killed in World War I.

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