STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. –– A gleaming new pavilion — the result of a $6.5 million renovation effort — was unveiled Tuesday at Conference House Park.
The 3,000 square foot open-air pavilion rests upon the piles of the original structure, which was built in 1935 in Tottenville, the southernmost point of New York State. Over the years, the pavilion was worn down by storms. The Parks Department closed it in 2011 due to extensive damage that it endured during Hurricane Irene.
Cutting the ribbon Tuesday were Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, Councilman Joseph Borelli, Conference House Park Conservancy President Jim Pistilli, and Community Board 3 Chair Al Klingele..
The new structure is water and wind-resistant, built to withstand future storms. The New York City Parks Department also made landscape enhancements and incorporated green infrastructure to more efficiently manage stormwater runoff.
The renovation cost a total of $6.5 million and was funded by a combination of city officials: $5.5 million from Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, $850,000 from City Councilman Joseph Borelli and former City Councilman Vincent Ignizio, and $150,000 from Staten Island Borough President James Oddo and former Borough President James P. Molinaro
The new Almer G. Russell Pavilion, which is named in honor of the Tottenville resident that died in battle in France during World War I, is one of more than 800 capital projects completed under Commissioner Silver’s leadership (since 2014).
Commissioner Silver, who is leaving the Parks Department and New York this year, reflected on his work with the Parks Department as he spoke at the unveiling.
“New York is a tough place. It can be very cynical. But I always believed throughout my entire career, in leading and creating a culture of care, dignity, and respect for staff, for the people who use the parks, and for the park itself,” said Silver.
Borough Parks Commissioner Lynda Ricciardone echoed this sentiment about Silver leading with care and the impact he’s had on New York City and Staten Island.
“I would like to also take this opportunity to thank Commissioner silver. His leadership over the last seven years has been beneficial not only to New York City Parks and those who work with him, but the people of New York, especially Staten Island.
“And we’ve been the recipients of his great vision. Commissioner Silver has been a champion of equity, innovation, and sustainability and we are grateful to have had him as our New York City Parks Commissioner,” Ricciardone said.
Councilmember Borelli chose a football analogy to highlight Silver’s accomplishments as New York City Parks Commissioner.
“He’s probably the best running back the Parks Department ever had because he took more projects down the field than any other Commissioner that I can remember and I’ve been in government for about four now,” said Borelli.
“As Commissioner I’ve prioritized working to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to quality parks, and it’s outstanding to see these underused spaces transformed into community assets. Thanks to a tremendous investment from our partners across the city, Staten Islanders can enjoy the breathtaking views of Raritan Bay and the New Jersey Shoreline from this revitalized open-air structure,” said Silver.
“These parks are our outdoor sanctuaries, our outdoor living rooms where people thrive, where they create memories, where they connect. And so this pavilion we’re about to cut the ribbon on, it is my hope it’s brought joy to so many Staten Island visitors. It is my hope it’ll bring joy, healing, and great memories for generations to come,” Silver continued.
In addition to local officials, U.S. Military veterans, officers from the 123rd precinct, and NYC Parks Department staff including park rangers were in attendance at the ribbon cutting.