Renovation of Fort Washington Park on Track

By Jane Werrell
Jane Werrell
Jane Werrell
Jane Werrell is a reporter for NTD based in the UK.
December 30, 2013 Updated: December 30, 2013

NEW YORK—In recent years Washington Heights hasn’t quite been transformed into a family haven, but it is in the phase of urban renewal.

The district’s Fort Washington Park that looks out to the Hudson River is in the middle of a $30.4 million publicly funded renovation.

Improvements to the waterfront park include a new Nature Discovery playground, five volleyball courts, two redesigned diamonds and a soccer field. So far, around $11 million of the total budget has been used.

Community board 12 member Elizabeth Lorris Ritter said that the park’s transformation is a wonderful culmination of years of work.

“One thing that hasn’t changed is that everyone loves the park,” she said “and the more people that use parks the safer they get.”

On a recent breezy morning, former resident David Thompson took a nostalgic stroll on Riverside Avenue, which looks down on Fort Washington Park.

Thompson, 64, grew up in Washington Heights with Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. He remembered it as a wonderful neighborhood of hardworking people.

“It was probably more integrated than it is now,” he reminisced, “but it’s coming back to what it was.”

His family left the area for Harlem in 1962, where he still resides. He narrowly missed the impact of the 1970s recession and the rise of the American drug trade in Washington Heights.

“It must have been very sad for them,” he said. Walking through the community today, though, he felt quite safe.

Ty Jones, production art director at the Classical Theatre of Harlem lives in Washington Heights with his children who are 3, 5, and 7 years old.

He joined NYC Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White, City Council member Robert Jackson, and local youths to cut the ribbon on a new playground and ball fields in Fort Washington Park Monday, in celebration of the recent developments of the park.

Jones said he’s never felt unsafe in the neighborhood.

“Drug sales have diminished dramatically on the streets” he said. “Although to be honest in my opinion, they have probably moved indoors,” he added.

His colleague, Kelly Burdick also a Washington Heights resident said, “It’s the best neighborhood I’ve lived in. I keep going north in New York.”

Jane Werrell
Jane Werrell is a reporter for NTD based in the UK.