Monday, July 12, 2010

Harlem's Highbridge Park is a Poster Child for Neglect by City After Condoms Wrappers, Needles Found by Tina Moore - NY Daily News

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Parks advocate Geoffrey Croft is frustrated by city inaction: 'Instead of fixing the deplorable conditions, the city pretends they don’t exist.' Lombard for News

In Harlem's Highbridge Park, condom wrappers and used hypodermic needles litter a path not far from a playground at 190th St. where a mom rolled a ball to her toddler.

"It's really sad," said 26-year-old Angel De La Rosa, walking by with his beagle, Charlie. "I don't go back there."

More condoms and needles lie scattered on a short trail that leads to the High Bridge near 170th St.

"I don't think you're ever going to see this in Central Park or on the High Line," said Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates, pointing to a partially filled needle.

The park stretches along the Harlem River Drive from W. 155th St. to Edgecombe Ave., and is the only major swath of green space in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods.

Photo caption: Instead of flowers and shrubbery, hypodermic needles, condoms and other trash are scattered in the weeds at Highbridge Park.

It does not have a large private conservancy raising money for upkeep, security and beautification - and locals say it shows.

At times, New Yorkers are forced to handle maintenance themselves.
Johnati Pol, 19, said baseball players try to repair uneven surfaces to the diamond at 174th St. by throwing dirt on the surface after it rains.

"It gets muddy, and it gets bumpy," Pol said, saying the bumps send the baseball bouncing into players' faces.

On a recent visit, part of the diamond's eroding dirt foundation was being held in place by wooden planks secured by cords.

Still farther south, a stairwell at 156th St. and Edgecombe Ave. was shuttered with rusted hurricane fencing and metal "No Trespassing" signs.

Below, a landing was inscribed, "John T. Brush Stairway, Dedicated by the New York Giants."

The stairs led to the former Polo Grounds, once home to the storied Giants baseball team when they were in New York.

"Instead of fixing the deplorable conditions," Croft said, "the city pretends that they don't exist."

Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe said the city plans a $60 million renovation of the High Bridge pedestrian connector between Manhattan and the Bronx, which is scheduled to wrap up in 2013.

Later, officials conceded that none of that money will go to improve the 118-acre park itself.