May 23, 2008
For Release: Immediate
Riverbank State Park Celebrates 15th Anniversary
$2.4 million in renovations in store for Riverbank this year
State park system's $132 million initiative moving ahead
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash joined state and city leaders to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the opening of Riverbank State Park, which has become a recreational, cultural and athletic mainstay in West Harlem and one of the most popular parks in the entire state park system.
"It's hard to imagine life in Harlem today without Riverbank State Park," Governor David A. Paterson said. "The constant buzz of activity in the pools, on the courts and playgrounds, and in the theaters truly shows how this park enhances life in the community. Families have come to rely on Riverbank as a place for healthy recreation, spirited competition, and inspiring arts and entertainment. It is a tremendous community asset, and we need to make sure it remains vital and accessible for many years to come."
"Riverbank State Park is the perfect example of just how much people need quality parks and recreational facilities," said Ash. "When this facility first opened, there was doubt and skepticism. Today, Riverbank is a recreational and cultural community anchor visited by more than 2 million people each year – making it one of the most popular parks in the entire state park system."
"Excellent parks and recreational opportunities close to all of our neighborhoods are essential to the city's quality of life, and Riverbank State Park is one of Harlem's tremendous resources," Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell Jr. said. "In addition to celebrating fifteen years of this wonderful place, it is just as important to ensure that it is properly maintained and cared for. The planned renovations will help ensure New York City families continue to enjoy the activities Riverbank has to offer."
"I was here at the birth of Riverbank State Park fifteen years ago and since then we have been working to ensure that area residents get the most out of the many facilities and programs to which it plays host," Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright said. "I am proud to continue my support of Riverbank and look forward to future generations experiencing the full range of activities offered here. From basketball, baseball, skating and swimming to great cultural events, this park has something for everyone.
"Riverbank State Park is part of the fabric of Harlem and it must be supported for years to come." "Riverbank State Park is a one of a kind recreational facility that provides substantial benefits for those living in Northern Manhattan and beyond," Senator Eric Schneiderman said. "I am confident that the upcoming renovations will further enhance the park and will enable it to flourish as a community asset."
"Riverbank State Park has been an asset to its local community as well as the city as a whole for the past fifteen years," Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell said. "I would like to thank those who have made this park successful and hope that they continue for the next fifteen."
"It's hard to believe that Riverbank is 15 years old!" Councilmember Robert Jackson said. "I am delighted that the State is investing in timely maintenance to keep this jewel of a park gleaming and open to our community for all to enjoy."
In an effort to keep Riverbank contributing to the community, the state is investing $2.4 million this year to renovate the facility. The revitalization plan calls for $875,000 to begin replacing roofs and heating, ventilation and air condition systems and $1.5 million to replace the traffic circle's concrete surface. In addition, design work is moving forward on plans to replace aging basketball courts and running tracks, upgrade the skating rink, install security cameras and bridge painting. Construction on those projects is expected next year.
The renovations are part of a $132 million capital improvement spending plan that Governor Paterson and the Legislature advanced in this year's state budget for New York's 178 state parks and 35 historic sites. The $132 million is the single largest capital investment in the history of the state park system. The infusion will enable the state to begin addressing the system's extensive capital needs – needs that have been estimated at approximately $650 million.
Riverbank is the only park of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. Inspired by urban rooftop designs in Japan, this 28-acre multi-level landscaped recreational facility rises 69 feet above the Hudson River atop a water pollution control plant. Housed in five major buildings are an Olympic-size pool, a covered skating rink for roller skating in the summer and ice-skating in the winter, an 800-seat cultural theater, a 2,500-seat athletic complex with fitness room, and a 150-seat restaurant.
Outdoor sports amenities include a 25-yard lap pool, a wading pool, four tennis courts, four basketball courts, a softball field, four hand/paddleball courts, and a 400-meter eight-lane running track with a football/soccer field. There are two playgrounds, a water splashing area and a number of picnic areas. Riverbank also boasts spectacular promenade views of the Hudson River, the Palisade Mountains and the George Washington Bridge. At water level, there is a 400-seat amphitheater and docking facilities for excursion and fishing boats.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation administers 178 parks and 35 state historic sites. For more information about state parks and historic sites in New York, please visit www.nysparks.com.