The Friends of Pelham Bay Park was organized to help preserve the park for present and future generation, ensuring that it is always used for recreation, education, and conservation. The group is comprised of concerned citizens who care about preserving the park. In cooperation with the City of New York Parks & Recreation Department, the Friends plan to bring more community events, youth programs, and restoration projects to the Bronx’s flagship park.
Projects and Initiatives
The Friends initiate special projects and host fundraisers to support its efforts. Below is a summary of the group’s most recent projects.
The Sensory Garden is located near the Playground for All Children in the southern part of the Park. Among its attractions are a raised wheelchair-accessible L-shaped planter and a teardrop-shaped planter bed. Since 2007, Educator and Gardener Han-Yu Hung has offered programming for special needs students from local elementary and middle schools. Kids get the direct experience of digging in the earth, feeling the textures of plants and smelling their subtle fragrances. They also learn how to plant seeds and compost. Through the fundraising efforts of the Friends in 2014, this educational program will be offered for an additional two years.
Fitness for all is a major concern for the Friends. With this in mind, we have raised funds to add three pieces of outdoor equipment to an area near the running track in the southern part of the Park. Until now, there has been no dedicated exercise equipment in Pelham Bay Park. Our goal is to provide people of all ages and abilities an opportunity to get fit, have fun and stay healthy. These outdoor fitness pieces will provide a free, easy and accessible way to combat obesity, recover from an injury or illness and lead a healthier lifestyle. After surveying the types of equipment available, the Friends are now in the process of choosing the specific pieces to be installed and the area where they will be placed.
In 2012, the Friends raised funds to transform an isolated pond area near the Playground for All Children in the southern part of the Park. This effort is planned to encourage children with physical impairments and special needs to fully experience this small wetland up-close. The landscape designer we hired is currently refining plans to create a new gravel path and viewing platform for wheelchair and stroller access, choosing plantings and other natural features. Additional amenities for “Pond Walk” will include interpretive signage with tactile learning elements, a small nature-themed play piece, new plantings, a wood railing and a natural seating area.
The Friends raised funds for two beach wheelchairs at Orchard Beach, the only such wheelchairs at any New York City public beach. These chairs allow people who have never been able to visit the water’s edge to fully experience the sands of our beautiful crescent-shaped shoreline. Before this, wheelchair-bound visitors could only access the beach on a mobility mat, but now they can go well beyond it. Beach wheelchairs have large, lightweight wheels, similar to those on a dune buggy, which provide the flexibility to travel across the sand to the water.