Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

December 14, 2006

For Release: Immediate
Press Contact:
Mary Ellen Kris
Catherine Jimenez

State Parks Announces Plans For Roberto Clemente State Park

Framework Unveiled for $20 Million Improvement Project at Bronx Site

(New York City, December 14, 2006...) New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Bernadette Castro today joined with state and local officials, community leaders, and park patrons to unveil initial plans for the $20 million comprehensive rehabilitation project at Roberto Clemente State Park, located along the Harlem River in the Bronx.

(back row, left to right) Deputy Borough President Earl Brown, Commissioner Bernadette Castro, Commissioner Adrian Beuepe, (front row) Roberto Clemente Baseball Team

"This comprehensive rehabilitation project at Roberto Clemente State Park will provide greater access and greenspace along the waterfront, as well as exciting new features at the aquatics facility, improved basketball courts and ball fields and other new and improved recreational resources at the home of New York's first urban state park," said Commissioner Castro. "The valuable partnerships that we have here with our counterparts at City Parks, the New York Restoration Project and the local Bronx community have played a key role in the continuing revitalization of this facility that will provide enjoyment for park patrons of all ages."

The concept for park improvements includes:

  • Renovating the Park's Aquatics facility including its Olympic-sized pool, diving pool, sundeck areas and locker rooms; creating a new entry to Aquatics and adding new spray pad water features;
  • Replacing the existing basketball courts at the south end of the park with new ball courts including new court surfacing, lighting, landscaping, drinking fountains and utility upgrades;
  • Enhancing the sports fields including installing a new, artificial turf surface football/softball field;
  • Improving the existing baseball field with new fencing, new sod and irrigation system and a resurfaced infield area;
  • Refurbishing the Activity Building with roof repairs;
  • Replacing unnecessary paving with greenspace and enhancing picnic areas, playgrounds and community gardens; and
  • Enhancing views and access to the Harlem River waterfront, and stabilizing the shoreline.

In 2004, by agreement between Governor Pataki and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the City committed to providing $20 million of capital funds for park enhancements at Roberto Clemente State Park. Projects will restore and upgrade the site, enhance and revitalize the waterfront, further link City and State parks, potentially the Harlem River Greenway. The investment is part of $200 million in capital mitigation funds for the Bronx Parks that the City Department of Environmental Protection is providing in the context of its construction of a water filtration plant for the Croton Water Supply System in the Bronx.

"Thanks to the leadership of Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg, we are making a historic investment into Bronx Parks that generations of New Yorkers will be able to enjoy. This is the largest and most comprehensive improvement and expansion of parks and recreation facilities since the federally funded WPA projects of the 1930s," said NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "The enhancements at Roberto Clemente State Park will be a vital component of the planned Harlem River Greenway, significantly enhancing the quality of life for all New Yorkers. With the creation of greenways throughout the borough and the reconstruction of parks with Croton Mitigation Funds, Bronx Parks are shining like never before. Special thanks to Commissioner Castro for her energetic and impassioned dedication to the State Parks of the NYC region over the last 12 years. All New Yorkers now enjoy better State Parks thanks to her leadership."

In addition to the $20 million investment outlined by Commissioner Castro, plans will be developed to enhance the connection between the Park and New York City Park's Bridge Park just south of the Park and to link the northern end of the Park to the immediate neighborhood and northward on the River. These linkages will enhance Roberto Clemente State Park's role as an anchor in the greater Harlem River waterfront park improvement effort.

In 2004, the Governor announced a $350,000 Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) grant to the New York Restoration Project for its use in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to develop and rehabilitate the City's Bridge Park, located just south of Robert Clemente State Park along the Harlem River in the South Bronx. This October, the state awarded $350,000 in EPF funds to City Parks and its partner, the Harlem River Park Task Force, toward the development of the first phase of the 20-acre waterfront Harlem River Park on the Manhattan side of the Harlem River. The park and its facilities will serve cyclists, in-line skaters, joggers, and pedestrians who utilize the park as part of the 32-mile greenway around the borough of Manhattan.

"This is an excellent example of ways public private partnerships work for the good of the citizens of NYC and we look forward to continuing our work in the future," said Drew Becher, Executive Director, New York Restoration Project.

The Park was originally opened by Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1973 as Harlem River Bronx State Park. Thirty years ago, in September 1974, the popular site was re-named Roberto Clemente State Park in honor of the Hall of Fame baseball player.

Located along the Harlem River, at West Tremont and Matthewson Road in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx, Roberto Clemente State Park was the first urban state park in the New York State Parks system. The park offers a wide range of indoor and outdoor recreational and cultural programs and facilities as well as scenic picnic areas and a green house. Existing athletic facilities include a large gymnasium, game room, dance studio, meeting rooms and a fitness center.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 176 state parks and 35 state historic sites. For more information on any of these recreation areas please call (518) 474-0456 or visit the web site at