STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. –– For nearly 20 years Fairview Park was a mere idea, something promised and never delivered –– until now.
City parks and elected officials gathered with community members Wednesday at the sprawling 23.5 acre recreational complex in Charleston to celebrate what Borough President James Oddo described as “one of the greatest Parks days in Staten Island history or the greatest Staten Island day in Parks history.”
Those celebrating the park’s opening with a ribbon-cutting Wednesday included NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, Borough Parks Commissioner Lynda Ricciardone, Councilman Joseph Borelli, Oddo and Parks Department administrators and staff.
“I just want all of you to drink this in. We’re not, as public servants, allowed to take victory laps often. But, I want everyone who is associated with this project to really enjoy this moment,” Oddo remarked at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“This is a long time coming and so many of you had a hand in this,” he continued.
20-YEARS IN THE MAKING
In 1999, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a plan to clear approximately 38 acres of Bloomingdale Park to add recreational fields. Environmentalists lobbied against the plan, advocating for the wildlife in the park and calling for the land to remain untouched.
Bloomberg then presented a compromise plan, in 2002, proposing that only 15 acres of Bloomingdale Park be developed for recreational facilities. He promised to compensate for the smaller area by transferring 42 acres of undeveloped land, located on the other side of the West Shore Expressway, from New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services to the Parks Department, creating Fairview Park.
The plan proposed to allot more than 20 acres of Fairview to be developed to include additional facilities including athletic courts and fields.
The $20.2 million project that added three fields for softball, baseball, and soccer, a new playground, two basketball courts, a bocce ball court, a comfort station, an interior nature trail, and an exterior bike path around the park as well as infrastructure for convenient access to Bloomingdale Park was completed in 2004. Fairview Park’s recreational facilities were originally expected to be completed in 2005.
However, Fairview was delayed a decade and a half as the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) reconfigured the park plans and the Bricktown Centre shopping center was built.
Officials didn’t break ground on the new Fairview Park until 2019. It was completed in 2020. Costing a total of $20.3 million, the project was funded by the Mayor’s Office, the Staten Island Borough President’s Office, the EDC, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the City Council.
‘THIS IS A COLLABORATION’
Borough Parks Commissioner Lynda Ricciardone shared her contentment with the completion of Fairview Park, noting the collaborative effort that made it possible.
“I am so happy to be able to stand here today with our elected officials and Commissioner Silver because this has been in the works for way too many years, and it’s just great to be here. It really would not be possible to be standing here without these dedicated elected officials here on Staten Island,” said Ricciardone.
“Our elected officials understand the importance of our park system. They understand what it means to you and they understand what it means to take that tax dollar and invest it into our park system,” she continued.
“These projects reflect our commitment of improving the quality of accessibility of our New York City Parks,” Silver added.
Borelli expressed his gratitude for Commissioners Silver and Ricciardone and their dedication to Staten Island parks and commended the administrators for their efficient execution of projects.
“I want to say thank you to the Parks Department, the capital team and design team because we throw around the word transformative quite often when we have these ribbon cuttings. And let’s be honest, some playgrounds are just nicer versions of the playgrounds that were there a few years ago.
“This is really a transformative park and it combines everything that Staten Islanders on the South Shore want. I know that because you guys actually took the time to ask the community and work with them to figure out what their hopes and dreams and desires are,” said Borelli.
Borough President Oddo reflected on the various people that contributed to the successful construction of Fairview Park.
“This process is bigger than any one elected official. It’s bigger than any one commissioner,” said Oddo.
Fairview Park has amenities for both passive and active recreation including a multi-purpose synthetic turf field, a baseball/softball field, tennis and bocce courts, an adult fitness area, a picnic area, off-street parking, and an ADA-compliant multi-use trail.
The multi-purpose field will serve as a replacement for the John D’Amato Field, which was destroyed during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, in New Dorp Park.
Fairview Park will also have a brand new comfort station. Construction of the station is currently underway and expected to be completed this upcoming Fall.
The wooded area of Fairview Park is named Sandy Ground Woods in honor of Sandy Ground, the oldest continuously inhabited free Black settlement in the United States as part of an NYC Parks initiative to honor Black American legacies and history in the city.
For more information about Fairview Park, visit the Parks Department’s website.