Thursday, January 25, 2007

Red-Tail Hawk Couple in St. Nicholas Park

A few days ago, I snapped this low-quality camera phone photo of two wonderful red-tail hawks hovering and hanging out on tree tops above the dog run. I am suggesting we name them much like the hawk couple in Central Park who nested on the fancy coop building. Please comment below on some creative names for them or let us know if you too have seen them in the park. Some better photos would be good too!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Harlem Happenings: ENews From Harlem Parks

Hi everyone, thank you for this great blog site! I am posting a shortened version of an electronic newsletter with news affecting the four Historic Harlem Parks (St. Nicholas, Jackie Robinson, Marcus Garvey and Morningside Parks). If you have any questions about this information, contact me at or 917 816-2167.


* * Grant Opportunity for Community Projects * *

Partnerships for Parks Capacity Fund
Partnerships for Parks' Capacity Fund supports projects that help build a community group's capacity to care for their local park. Grants range from $250 to $5,000, and application deadlines are February 1st, June 1st, and October 1st.

Please call Technical Assistance Program Director Hillary Angelo at (212) 360-1370 or email with project ideas or questions about proposals.
For an application, go to

Citizens for NYC's New Yorkers for Better Neighborhoods and Building Blocks Awards
Click on the link below for applications for Citizens for NYC's 2007 New Yorkers for Better Neighborhoods and Building Blocks awards.
These awards support hundreds of established and new grassroots volunteer groups with small grants of $500 to $1,000 to build creative solutions to neighborhood issues.

If you have questions email or call 212.989.0909.

* * Historic Harlem Parks Website * *
We are looking for web savvy volunteers and organizations to help us create a more comprehensive Historic Harlem Parks website.

We would like to build a site that links to a complete calendar of events, updates on capital projects in parks, a place to sign-up to volunteer and other services. We want your input!
For more information about how you can get involved, contact Rebecca Scott at or (212) 360-3326.

* * New Community Space to Open Soon * *
The Hamilton Heights-West Harlem Community Preservation Organization will open a space for community meetings this February. Need a place to hold a Harlem meeting? You can contact the group at (212) 281-4442 or

Also, check out their informative website at The group is active in many arenas, including beautification of neighborhood green spaces.

* * Shape Up NY – Free Exercise Classes * *
Sites near you . . .

St. Nicholas Park
Group Walks and Cardio Workout
Every Monday, Tuesday, & Thursday
6:30 - 7:30 am (Rain or Shine)
135th Street & St. Nicholas Avenue

Jackie Robinson Park Recreation Center
Fitness Classes
Monday, Wednesday & Friday: 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Tuesday & Thursday: 6:00 - 7:00 pm
Saturday: 10:30 am - 12:00 pm
89 Bradhurst Avenue between 146th & 147th Streets
Contact: 212 234-9607

* * Receive Updates on Your Parks – Tailored to You! * *
Partnerships for Parks sends out e-blasts every 4 to 6 weeks on a range of opportunities including upcoming workshops, programs, and grant deadlines and volunteer opportunities. We also offer e-blasts on specific interests, such as waterfront, natural areas, and Green Streets and street trees.

Interested? For the first time ever, you can now sign up to receive these e-blasts on our website! Just visit and click on the link "Join our email list."

Abandoned Puppy in Dog Run

A 5-7 month old female white pit bull puppy was found this morning abandoned in the dog run. The ASPCA has been called to rescue her. If you see her in the run when visiting please be mindful not to let her out. And please share a treat or two with her.

Photo follows. She seems to have a good temperament although she is a little skittish around people.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Woodchip Workday a Success!

Our Woodchip Workday was a great success. Thank you to all who pitched in! We were able to cover a large amount of the run with chips. Department of Forestry promises that they will chip the dead wood next to the run soon. They have also said they may be able to shoot the chips over the fence into the run so all we'll have to do is spread them within the area. Stayed tuned and check back to this blog or join our Google Group for updates on when the next Woodchip workday takes place.

Thanks to Mike and Diva who brought coffee and kept us warm. More pictures from this afternoon are below.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Commissioner Monthly Meeting Report for January 2007

We had our monthly Commissioner meeting on Thursday with Manhattan Park's Commissioner William Castro. Unfortunately, the Commissioner was unable to make the meeting and his assistant Steve Simon stood in for the Commissioner. Below is a summary of what was reported on as well as attendees.


Park Manager Paul Evans led the group through recently completed projects and capital projects slated for 2007.

1. 141st Street Playground and Basketball Courts: Resurfacing for the courts are planned this year as well as some upgrades to the playground area. Resurfacing of the courts usually take 8 weeks to complete and would require the courts to be closed for that time. There was concern about when the scheduled work is planned to take place. Originally, the resurfacing was scheduled for this summer, but many at the meeting voiced concern about the timing since the courts are used most during the warm summer month, when many youth programs and tournaments take place. Steve Simon suggested that is resurfacing cannot happen earlier in the year, it should happen in the fall perhaps October.

2. Lower Path from 132nd street and 135th street along St. Nicholas Avenue: The paths here are in dire need of repaving and drainage. Work will commence this year 2007 on repaving and drainage improvement.

3. Upper Path from 131st Street to 135th Street and St. Nicholas Terrace: This work will include a full overhaul of the drainage and repaving of the upper pathway. New lights will also be installed along the pathway. Also, a water system is being installed for the plantings along the pathway as part of this capital project. Unfortunately, a water line to the new dog run will not be included into the scope of work for this project since the work stops short of 135th street. If more funding can be given from the city council or another source, then parks would be able to begin work planned for 2008 for upper path renovations north of 135th street earlier, where a water line would make more sense to include in scope. Project Manager Bob Redmond stated that as part of the 135th street to 139th street path reconstruction the overhaul of the dog park including permanent fencing could be included.

Possible funding sources includes Councilman Jackson securing funding through the city for this work. Friends of St. Nicholas Park feels that a water line should be a priority in order to enhance the new dog run .

4. Sidewalks on St. Nicholas Avenue from 130th Street to 137th Street: Work involves reconstruction of dilapidated sidewalks on St. Nicholas Avenue. Time of construction start: TBD.

5. Staircase and adjacent landscaping at 130th Street (completed): This project was completed last year. The whole reconstruction of the staircase and the surrounding landscaping cost a total of $1 million. Park manager Paul Evans cited a couple of other staircase that may require similar renovations - mostly 138th street and 133rd street internal staircases in the park.


Outreach to Dorm: Park Manager Paul Evans had a meeting with the Dormitory Director at City College to brainstorm ways for the Towers dorm at City College to engage students to become more active in the park. Rebecca Scott from Partnership for Parks will follow up on the meeting and will outline ideas for student activity in the park.

Hamilton Grange: Community Board 9 was presented with the plans for moving the Grange from its current location on Convent Avenue to its new location within St. Nicholas Park. The board had a problem with the proposal to face the house Northeast instead of its original historical foundation which faced Northwest. Their concern involved internal structures such as mirrors in the house that captured a certain feeling when the house is facing southwest. The proposed area for the Grange is on the hill sloping toward the Northeast right on the parcel of land between 141st and 140th street and St. Nicholas Avenue. The Southwest direction has the Grove School of Engineering in front of it and would not look good to face the building into the Engineering building on an upward sloping foundation. The attendees at this meeting dismissed the concerns of Community Board 9 as something that should not impede the proposed move.

Currently, the money for the Hamilton Grange's move is not available and probably will not be included in the budget for this year. The Commissioner is hopeful that money can be secured for this project by Congressman Rangel in next year's budget. Bob Redmond does not think any move of the house will occur before mid-2008. He and others suggested writing letters to Congressman Rangel to voice concern over the delay of securing the money for the move, and to confirm that the Hamilton Grange project is still a priority for him in his role as the new Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

Schools "Fun in the Park" Day: Every year St. Nicholas Park hosts school children from various grades and levels from area schools to take part in activities in the park in order to build appreciation and interest of St. Nicholas Park. Basketball, tennis, plantings, etc. This year's schedule event is for May 16th with a rain date for May 23rd. Paul will be contacting the schools to secure these dates. 607 schools will be involved. Concern with the dates because of intense testing for school children in the month of May. June will not be an option, since schools do not like day off days after the Memorial Day holiday.


NYPD reported that they currently have one officer patrolling the park. They have engaged in several buy and bust operations on St. Nicholas Terrace and the 130's.

Crime is down in the park.
In 2005, there were 17 robberies reported in the park.
In 2006, there were 11 robberies reported in the park.

Last robbery reported in St. Nicholas Park was October 2006.

Correction about Riverside Park: Daily News ran a story based on a clerical error in tabulating crime in Riverside Park. They reported 36 robberies there in 2006. This was an error since all 4 Police Precincts reported the total amount of robberies for the park that year. So in fact, according to Police the park is among the safest with less than 10 robberies in 2006.

Car break-ins: St. Nicholas Terrace continues to be a problem, but getting slightly better. Worrisome area is Riverside Park near Grant's Tomb.

PEP Report: Overnight patrol in Manhattan parks. From 8pm to 4am. PEP asks the Friends any problem areas they can focus on at night. We suggested that they focus on the new dog run area to insure no Pit Bill Fighting was taking place.

PEP reported a slight decrease in off-leash summonses for dog owners and correlated that with the recent opening of the Dog Run.


Dog Run: Friends of St. Nicholas Park (William Mullin and Julia Granacki) updated the Commissioner about the new Dog Park and next steps toward completion.

We are securing final numbers from the contractor in order to build a corral entrance for the dog park. After the corral is in place, volunteers will be called in order to complete the small dog park adjacent to the large dog park.

The Friends expressed a desire for a ribbon cutting opening and officially naming the dog park "St. Nick's Dog Park." Commissioner and members at meeting receive idea well and asked the Friends to let them know when they would like to plan it. Dog park completion would probably not take place until March or April.

Inside the dog park are a series of lampposts that are not working. 1 out of the three has no light fixture, but the other 2 seem to have the new light fixtures. Park manager Paul Evans will contact the DOT and arrange to have a line dug to the working poles in order for power to be brought to the dog run lights.

Friends expressed a need for clear communication of a change in law within the park concerning off-leash hours for dogs. The Friends want clarity around whether or not off-leash hours will no longer be a courtesy since the new dog run as been put in. The Commissioner was not at meeting to voice a decision, but Park Manager Paul Evans and Steve Simon both stated the Commissioner more than likely would eliminate off-leash hours in the park. The Friends said what was needed were clear official signs from Parks stating "No Dogs Off-
Leash Anytime. Use Dog Run."

Friends also need the Park's official Dog Run Rules and Regulations signs. Paul Evans has agreed to order 2 of these signs (although one would be needed. One for safekeeping).

Meeting Place: Friends are looking for a regular meeting place to hold their meetings. Becky Scott from partnership for Parks said that the West Harlem Community Preservation Organization has a room where our group can meet. Becky to connect Friends to meeting room organizers.

Spring Festival: Friend do not have a date for the Spring Event yet, but will be working on it soon.

CITY COLLEGE UPDATE (Robert Santos, Director of Planning and Development)

Call-Boxes: City College is installing several emergency call boxes along St. Nicholas Terrace. The College would like to know if some of these should be placed on the Park side of the terrace. If so, Parks would be responsible for the boxes (it seems) since it resides on Parks property. The Commissioner will get back to City College on that.

Update on buildings: 2 new building will be build for science and biology on the terrace between the Towers dormitory and the new School of Architecture. There are no architecture drawing for the community yet, but Friends expressed a need for more foot traffic and flow on St. Nicholas Terrace. Unfortunately it seems that all the entrances will be wet facing, thus leaving the park and the terrace with a view of back of buildings.

Robert Santos will try to get some drawings and architectural renderings for the Friends group.


New Meeting Space: Becky Scott updated the group on a new meeting place for groups in the neighborhood to use - especially Friends of St. Nicholas Park. The meeting place is on Amsterdam and 143rd street.

St. James Partnership Basketball Tournament: Tournament is scheduled for August and Becky expressed concern over resurfacing and its impact on the tournament.

Fundraising Projects: Becky and Sabina updated the group on initiative to engage more businesses in the community to donate or volunteer in the park, sponsor park events or work the Friends group. The presented a map outlining all potential funders in the area. Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce was mentioned as a group that should be involved in the park more. Lloyd Williams should be contacted by Partnership for Parks or Friends in order to see what events they can co-sponsor, etc.

NYCares Day: Sabina updated the group on the yearly NYCares day, where corporate volunteers come to the park to hep with projects. She ask that the Friends group send her a list of any projects this volunteer group can help out with. The day is scheduled for April 21st. Perhaps the Friends group could schedule a volunteer day, the same day in order to tackle an especially big job.

Next meeting was scheduled for February 22nd at 10am. The Friends may have some members who would like to join the meeting but can't because of work commitments. They will get back to Steve Simon and Barbara Allen as to the best time to hold meetings going forward.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Harlem in Travel and Leisure Magazine (PDF)

I get Travel and Leisure magazine every month, since I can't afford exotic vacations I can live vicariously through the images and articles portrayed in this mag. This month, while flipping through small tidbits about obscure French towns or midwest hipster zones, I thought to myself "I wonder when Harlem will be featured in a magazine like this as a destination one plans to spend time in while in New York City." I flipped to the next page and here was this article. Perhaps, visitors will appreciate Harlem for more than its recently opened clothing and home stores and come here to take in our beautiful parks, architecture, and history that have always been here.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Fencing on the terrace broken (Temporarily fixed)

Just noticed this on my walk this morning with Carol and Buddy. Part of the iron fencing along the terrace is broken and has caused a gap which may be a danger for children or small dogs since it runs along a steep wall a couple of stories high. The broken fence is located along a bend on St. Nicholas Terrace (pictured above). I have informed the Park manager of the situation and hopefully will provide an update as to when it will be fixed. In the meantime, be careful...


Fence is temporarily fixed

St. Nick's Dog Park
Woodchip Workday Jan 21st!

Friends of St. Nicholas Park will be having a Woodchip Workday next weekend on Sunday, January 21st from 11am-2pm. Sunday was chosen because it seems like the warmer of the 2 weekend days and there is supposed to be lots of wind on Saturday (not a great idea when trying to spread woodchips). Scott Farr the gardener will be providing tools for us to move the woodchip piles and spread them over the ground inside the large dog run.

Of course, the area of the dog run is pretty immense and a few piles of woodchips will hardly do the job, but it is a start. Below is a photo of some debris we hope to turn into woodchips for the run is ever forestry's chipper is fixed and can come up here. One photo is of the debris that the volunteers from the neighborhood helped remove during the original construction of the Dog Park back in December.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Dog Park Opens in St. Nicholas Park

Finally after a year of effort from the community, the Friends of St. Nicholas Park has opened the first phase of its Dog Park in St. Nicholas Park. The Dog Park encompasses mostly wooded area between 137th and 135th street in the middle of the park.

On December 16th volunteers came out to erect temporary fencing and create a temporary gate for the dog run. In the next few weeks, a permanent corral and the small dog run will be completed.

The new dog run has got to be one of the largest and most beautiful in all New York City. Nestled in the middle of historic St. Nicholas Park among City College's gothic academic buildings and up the hill the townhouses of Striver's Row, the area is destined to become known as the dog park in the city.