Monday, April 30, 2007

Dog Run Re-opened With New Benches!

Today, the parks department under the project management leadership of Bradley Romaker came through and delivered for the Friends of St. Nicholas Park 3 nice benches for our dog run. They were installed today by contractor Felix and his staff. Work on the dog run corral continues, but we at least have a place to sit and socialize. We expect the entrance corral to be completed within days and the Friends will be scheduling a "Small Dog" Park construction day in order to erect fencing for the small dog run and properly move the current entrance to our corral. Please check back for updates.

Thanks again to Bradley Romaker who has been one of the reasons why the Friends have been able to get the dog park up and running.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Dog Run Closed this weekend for Bench Installations

Unfortunately, due to the rain this week we have had to hold off our cement pouring for the benches until this weekend. The dog park will be closed for most of Saturday, April 28th for concrete pouring and Sunday, April 29th for time to let it dry. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but we are excited to have our benches installed in time for Spring weather.

Thank you for your understanding. If you have any questions about the construction or bench installations please contact us at


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Price of Fresh Produce

As I was strolling through the park last week, I saw the most paculiar thing-wild green onions, growing like mad all along the upper path between the dog run and 140th Street.

Now, I suppose it's not terribly strange, but it was odd seeing vegitables growing fee in the park-in a city setting. I was absolutely facinated AND I began to notice them all over, including in the dog run.
My curiosity overtook me and I made up my mind to dig a few up and possibly re-plant them at my apartment. Who wouldn't want fresh green onions in their kitchen? I mean, after all, the only fresh thing we seem to get around these parts is Fresh Direct.

So, a few days later, on my way back from the dog run, I grabbed a stick and began digging up a few "test" onions. After a few minutes of scooping away earth and a couple of odd glances from park goers, I pulled up my first batch and threw them in a plastic bag.

They were quite healthy looking and smelled incredibly fresh. I was excited to wash them off and possibly throw them into a stir fry that evening. When I got home, I went straight to cleaning and trimming my precious find and I noticed that the green onion odor began to grow.

I stepped outside to dispose of some recycling and when I came back, I realized that the smell had not only penetrated my apartment, but the entire hallway and downstairs area! All I did was wash them and leave them to dry on my cutting board, yet it was absolutely pungent!

Regretfully, I had to make the quick decision of getting rid of them all together, as I new the smell would only grow if I cooked them up in my wok. I wrapped them in a couple of bags and sadly tossed them in the outside garbage.

It took more than a day to rid the house of that smell. I found myself in quite a conundrum, thinking, "Is this smell normal? Is this the price I must pay for fresh produce, straight from the earth? Or is it some bizarre toxicity caused by the city soil of our rotting big apple"?

I'm not a farmer or expert on this kind of thing, but it seemed safer sticking with what I know. So, I sat at my computer and clicked away, filling my virtual Fresh Direct shopping cart, odor free.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Greener City

In a quarter-century plan to create what he called “the first environmentally sustainable 21st-century city,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg proposed a sweeping and politically contentious vision yesterday of 127 projects, regulations and innovations for New York and the region.

James Estrin/The New York Times
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg walked beneath the full-scale model of a blue whale at the American Museum of Natural History as he arrived for his Earth Day speech. The plan is intended to foster steady population growth, with the city expected to gain about 1 million residents by 2030, and to put in place a host of environmentally sensitive measures that would reduce the greenhouse gases it generates.
Mr. Bloomberg also set the parameters for what could be a large piece of his legacy as mayor. In an address outlining the plan yesterday at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, Mr. Bloomberg likened it to the first blueprints for Central Park more than 100 years ago and the construction of Rockefeller Center in the Great Depression.
Many elements of the plan will face political hurdles in Albany and will depend on huge financial commitments from the state and federal governments, not to mention future mayors. To start, Mr. Bloomberg intends to add hundreds of millions of dollars to his proposed $57 billion budget for the next fiscal year, his aides said yesterday.
“Our economy is humming, our fiscal house is in order and our near-term horizon looks bright,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “If we don’t act now, when?”
The mayor chose Earth Day to give his speech and to release the details of his proposals. As widely predicted, the plan calls for an $8-a-day charge for people who drive their cars into Manhattan below 86th Street. The proposal for “congestion pricing,” which City Hall believes would reduce traffic and auto emissions while raising money for transportation projects, has already been met by harsh criticism from drivers and some officials outside Manhattan.
Other proposals in the plan, dubbed PlaNYC by the mayor’s staff, range from building huge capital projects and creating government authorities to implementing relatively benign initiatives in housing, transportation and land use.

One proposal calls for investments of $200 million a year from both the city and state to create a financing authority that would assure the completion of major projects like the Second Avenue subway. New authorities, with representatives from the city, state and private industry, would push for improved energy efficiency in new buildings and for the replacement of energy-guzzling power plants.

The city also would encourage the construction of platforms over railyards and highways to create land for housing. In addition, the plan would open 290 schoolyards as playgrounds, eliminate city sales taxes on energy-efficient hybrid vehicles, increase the number of bike paths and cultivate mussels to suck pollution out of the rivers.

Much of the plan, including its most costly proposals, would require state approval. Gov. Eliot Spitzer did not attend Mr. Bloomberg’s address, although another governor — Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, who appeared via videotape on two large screens — introduced the mayor.

Governor Spitzer, in a brief statement released late yesterday, said: “The mayor has released a comprehensive plan with admirable goals, especially the commitment to reduce energy consumption, and we look forward to reviewing the plan.”
Mr. Bloomberg’s initiative could be vulnerable to changes at City Hall and to setbacks in the economy.

But several observers praised it as a much-needed master plan for growth and the environment in a city that has let too many decades pass without such a vision.

“How you follow through on this is a huge political question, but it is a good time to be pushing it,” said Diana Fortuna, president of the Citizens Budget Committee. Ms. Fortuna was among several hundred people invited to the mayor’s speech, many of them associated with the 150 advocacy groups that had provided recommendations to Mr. Bloomberg.

The mayor acknowledged that the proposal for congestion pricing was the most contentious, calling it “the elephant in the room.”

Under the plan, the city would charge $8 for cars and $21 for commercial trucks that enter Manhattan below 86th Street from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. The charge would be $4 for drivers within Manhattan, and several exemptions would apply. No one would be charged on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive or the West Side Highway. There would be no charge for moving cars to comply with alternate side parking, and there would be no charge for taxis.
A similar system is in place in congested parts of London and Singapore, where Mr. Bloomberg said it had been shown to reduce congestion and improve air quality. In Manhattan, cameras and other equipment at intersections would deduct money from a driver’s E-ZPass account or photograph a car’s license plate, with the driver given two days to pay the fee through the mail, online or at certain stores.

The city said yesterday that it intended to seek state approval for a three-year test of congestion pricing and would need to spend $225 million to buy and install traffic-recording equipment. Officials said the city and state could jointly apply for grants from the United States Department of Transportation to cover those costs.

“The federal government really does want to be helpful,” Mr. Bloomberg said, in a rare departure from his prepared text.

Later, Mary E. Peters, the United States secretary of transportation, issued a statement praising the plan as “the kind of bold thinking leaders across the country need to embrace if we hope to win the battle against traffic congestion.”

The Nassau County executive, Thomas R. Suozzi, who has many constituents who commute by car to Manhattan, also was enthusiastic. “People’s first reaction is they don’t want to pay,” he said. “But getting them to switch to mass transit benefits us all.”

Mr. Bloomberg also called for improvements in express bus service and other public transportation in neighborhoods with little access to the subway, and where people are most inclined to drive into Manhattan for work or shopping. He said the city would complete those improvements before anyone is charged in the congestion pricing system.

Still, the reaction of many officials from outside Manhattan was cool. “I wonder if it is another hidden tax on working people,” said Adolfo CarriĆ³n Jr., the Bronx borough president. “I worry about people who need to use their cars to get to work.”

Money raised through congestion pricing would be added to the $400 million a year in combined city and state funds that the plan seeks for the creation of a new financing authority for transportation projects. The Sustainable Mobility and Regional Transportation Authority would issue bonds to award matching grants for projects by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and other agencies.

Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday that the added financial muscle was needed to close a $31 billion funding gap in 18 projects that are planned or underway, including the Second Avenue subway.

The new authority would be governed by a board with equal representation from the city and state. But it could provide a mechanism for Mr. Bloomberg and future mayors to reclaim some power over planning and capital expenditures by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. It is also a joint city and state agency, but one that has often been dominated by appointees of the governor.

In a prepared statement yesterday, officials from the authority said: “We applaud the mayor’s commitment to the transit system and will carefully analyze the city’s proposal to understand its impact on the M.T.A.”

Two other authorities, a New York City Energy Planning Board and an Energy Efficiency Authority, would be created to marshal investments that would finance energy conservation efforts and the construction of efficient power plants.
The plan also calls for a surcharge on electrical power customers, averaging $2.50 a month, with the money used to finance grants and other incentives for retrofitting buildings with energy-efficient materials. The new energy planning board, governed by city and state officials and utility executives, would make long-term commitments to buy energy from companies or investors who build efficient power plants.

In another measure, the city would plant more than 1 million trees in the next 10 years. It would offer incentives — intended to capture storm water runoff — for larger and deeper sidewalk tree pits and green roofs.

The plan calls for zoning changes in many neighborhoods with access to public transportation that would allow for larger homes and a higher density of housing, although such changes are often resisted in those neighborhoods.

It pledges that every New Yorker would live within a 10-minute walk from a park, and it calls for small public plazas in each community board district that does not have a park.
It would replace or modernize diesel-powered school buses in the city fleet and offer incentives to get heavy diesel trucks off the road. And it would commit city funds to clean up 7,600 acres of so-called brownfields, where soil has been polluted by chemicals or industrial materials. Some of the land would become parks.

Besides the introduction by Governor Schwarzenegger, Mr. Bloomberg’s address yesterday included videotaped praise by Tony Blair, the British prime minister, who made it clear the initiative was capturing the imagination of urban planners — if not necessarily the support it will need in Albany, Washington and neighborhoods outside Manhattan.

“This would mark out New York as a global leader in halting climate change,” Mr. Blair said.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

NYTs hightlights tree initiative by Parks Department

From the NYTs 04/21/07

A Shady Plan by the Mayor That’s Likely to Be Popular

Published: April 22, 2007

Among the list of contentious proposals that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is expected to announce today in his ambitious effort to steer the city toward a greener future, here’s one that is likely to receive little argument: more trees.

The city intends to plant a million trees during the next 10 years, filling every sidewalk vacancy with one and adding thousands to parks and public spaces.

City planners say the additional trees will help clean the air, soak up ozone-depleting carbon dioxide and make the city a little bit cooler in the summer, reducing energy demands.

“We believe this is the most ambitious tree-planting program ever undertaken, certainly by any American city,” said Daniel L. Doctoroff, the deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding.

The proposal is one of 127 initiatives that the mayor’s staff unveiled yesterday in a briefing with reporters at City Hall. The briefing was held on condition that only the tree-planting proposal be revealed until Mr. Bloomberg announces the full plan in his Earth Day speech today at the American Museum of Natural History.

The plan will provide specifics on achieving and paying for each of the measures, which are intended to ease traffic congestion, increase affordable housing, reclaim contaminated land and improve mass transit as the city prepares to make room for an estimated 1 million new residents during the next two decades.

A key objective is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

Despite Mr. Bloomberg’s efforts to keep the details secret, many elements of the plan have leaked out in recent days, including a controversial measure to charge drivers to enter the busiest areas of Manhattan. Another proposal calls for the creation of an authority to finance major infrastructure improvements and, in the process, wrest some control over large-scale projects from agencies like the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Empire State Development Corporation, over which the city has little say.

Few people, however, are likely to object to another tree on their block, especially in areas where concrete overwhelms any hint of green.

The city estimates it has about 5.2 million trees, covering about 24 percent of the five boroughs’ land mass. The national average for cities is about 27 percent. A little more than 592,000 of New York’s trees are planted along the street, and the city would like to increase that number by 210,000 during the next decade.

Joshua Laird, assistant commissioner of planning for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said it will cost about $37 million annually to plant and maintain 1 million more trees.

In addition to cleaner air and reduced energy demands that new trees would bring, Mr. Laird said they also would capture more storm water runoff, reducing pollution in the rivers.

The plan also would require trees to be planted at new developments.

Officials said they hope the program will stop the city’s long history of losing trees to development. Between 1984 and 2002, New York lost some 9,000 acres of vegetative cover, according to city estimates.

“If you think about the history of New York City,” Mr. Doctoroff said, “this fundamentally reverses the history of deforestation that has taken place pretty much since the city was settled.”

April Commissioner Monthly Meeting Minutes


Date: 4/12/07
Location: City College

Off Leash Hours
-Discussion about making 9pm-9am off-leash rule for dogs in city parks formal. (Updated law is outlined in PDF attachment (Off Leash Law022.pdf) found on the group site at:

-Official Rule Takes affect May 10th
-Does not apply in areas near Dog Runs
-Commissioner wants feedback from Friends group about off-leash parameters for the North and South end of the Park.
-All dogs must be licensed
-Signage will be posted to indicate off-leash and on-leash areas.

Capital Projects
-Received Capital Projects map in PDF. Friends to post on website.
-Paul Evans, Park Manager in constant communication with DOT about light outages throughout the park.
-Park users encouraged to call 311 with pole numbers of lights out
-Recent sink hole and drainage problems will be added to Capital projects for Upper Path in 2007.

-How can we get other groups to participate in the park?
-Commissioner encouraged Partnerships for Parks to reach out to local church groups and hold a meeting.

Manager’s Report
-Fun in the Park Day on May 16 involves area schools.
Yoga, rugby, planting projects, Ranger’s nature walks, tennis, basketball drills and free t- shirts
-Ages of students in attendance are grade 5-8
-Damaged bulletin boards near 141st street will be replaced/fixed by the beginning of May

Film Programs
-In addition to the yearly film festival in the Harlem Parks, Image Films and Bloom Entertainment have submitted several film permit events
-It was decided that they should shorten their programs, but Paul will work with them on this.
-No vendors will be permitted at the films
-Bloom Entertainment wants to do some programming in the Park.
Paul gave Friend’s their contact info.

-They have been cracking down on K-9 waste
-People are encouraged to call 311 and report dog owners who habitually neglect to clean up after their dog.

Police report from Captain Flood
-There was a robbery pattern in the park
-Groups of young kids between 12-18 taking people’s phones
-No one has been apprehended
-“Eye in the sky” is being added to the 135th street terrace to monitor from above.

City College Report
-Launching safety campaign
-Got feedback from group on informative posters
-Commissioner would like to see the Friends start a chapter with City College
-Contact with Karen Witherspoon is encouraged to help form chapter.

Partnership for Parks Report
-May 19th It’s My Park Day
-Partnerships encouraging City College to participate
-Friends have submitted application. Activities to include cleaning up around the dog run as well painting the iron fence on the terrace.
-City Garden Club to publish a tree guide on May 18th.

Friends Report
-Still waiting on Dog Run signage from Paul Evans. Paul said they have been ordered but there has been confusion as to the number of signs requested, etc.
-Lights becoming dangerous in Dog Run. Need permanent fix. UPDATE - Parks has temporarily fixed the low hanging wires causing worry among dog run users.
-Contractor has had lots of problems securing a permit from the Parks permit department in order to commence building the permanent corral.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Dog Run Entrance Construction Begins

Today, contractors started the construction of the St. Nick's Dog Park permanent corral entrance. The corral will be a 10 foot by 10 foot entrance way with three gates: a main entrance gate, a gate to the large dog park and a third gate to the small dog park area. The corral is expected to be completed within 2 weeks. If you are using the dog park, please use extreme caution around the construction area and do not let your dogs near the construction site or drying concrete.


Last week's storm takes toll on Park

Last week's record rain storm which produced up to almost 9 inches of rain in NYC took its toll on our beloved Harlem park. The storm triggered a mudslide (or landslide) on the east bank near 134th street. Fortunately no one was injured. The landslide carved a huge gash on the side of the park along the staircase at 134th street. Park crew has cleaned up the majority of the dirt from the slide, which spilled over the pathway and into a playground below. The upper path area near the mudslide has been closed off. Please be careful when visiting the area and keep away from the edge which remains tenuous. Pictures of the area are below.

The mudslide caused by last week's storm

The fenced off area on the upper path

The storm also hollowed out a prior sink hole which had recently been filled in by the Park's Department. The poor drainage in the area has been noted and the Friends of St. Nicholas Park is requesting that the drainage be addressed during the 2007 Capital Project for the Upper Path renovation (between 132nd and 135th) slated to begin in the fall. Photos of the sink hole follow.

The giant sink hole located near the top of the 135th street staircase

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Spring Volunteer Events in our Park.
Mark Your Calendars!

Spring is finally here! Our treasured park needs some care to get ready for summer.

Below is a list of upcoming Spring volunteer days in St. Nicholas
Park. Please mark your calendars. Volunteers meet on the Plaza at
135th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.

Remember to dress in clothing appropriate for gardening, painting or
other outdoor projects. If you have work gloves brings those too!

If you have any questions about these or other events in our park
please contact us at


SATURDAY, APRIL 21st 11am-2pm Join volunteers from NY Cares and City
College to help paint the fence and woodchip gardens along St. Nicholas Terrace.

SATURDAY, APRIL 28TH 11am-2pm Join volunteers from Journey Church in
cleaning up the park and planting some spring flowers.

SATURDAY, MAY 19TH 10am-2pm ITS MY PARK DAY. Join the Friends of St.
Nicholas Park and several other neighborhood volunteer groups in one of our biggest park clean up events of the year. Projects to include planting and cleaning around our new dog park! Refreshments served and t-shirts given to volunteers!

THURSDAY, JUNE 7TH 11am: Join corporate volunteers from Ernst + Young
in planting and clean-up projects throughout the park.

FRIDAY, JUNE 8TH 11am: Join corporate volunteers from Deloitte in
planting and clean-up projects throughout the park.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Easter Festival makes for an Eggtra-ordinary Day

Despite the cold, the West Harlem Community came out to St. Nicholas Park for the Friends of St. Nicholas Park Annual Easter Festival. There was an Easter egg hunt, arts and crafts, face painting and always the favorite cupcake decorating. The Easter Bunny showed up to spread the joy of spring around (although with temps in the low 40's, it was hard to do!).

Below are more photos of the event. Thanks to all the Friends who helped make this event possible!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sad News About Olive


We heard from Anna, Olive's mommy, yesterday. Below is her email:

Dear all:

It is with great sadness I must share the news that my little Olive did not make it home. I received a call this morning from the Parks Department that she had been picked up in Highbridge Park yesterday, but that she was injured and did not make it for long. I miss her something terribly but her friendship, playfulness and indomitable little spirit will remain with me forever.

I am so very grateful to you all for your help and support over the last few days.


Above is a favorite photo of Olive, the one Anna would like to remember Olive with.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Lost Dog Olive Needs Our Help!

Hey all,

This note below is from a dog owner who frequents St. Nick’s Dog Park. She has lost her dog Olive and needs help trying to get her back. I have included her information if anyone sees Olive. Attached is a photo of Olive. Thanks

“My beagle Olive and I are sometimes visitors to the St Nicholas Dog Run. Now Olive is lost. She is a tri-color beagle, 13 or so inches, weighs about 28 lbs, 2.5 years, very sweet face. Very friendly, but shy around children - loves treats. She went to a different dog run today up at Ft Washington Ave and 173rd Street. She was wearing a blue collar with small daisies and has an AVID chip. She got frightened and managed to sneak out and run away. It was about 2 pm today (Monday April 2nd).”

If you have any information please contact Anna Petersson at
212.551.6604 (Ph)