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Friday, October 9, 2009

Harris Field Contamination Slows Construction

The discovery of heavy metals contamination during construction at Harris Field in Bedford Park has slowed progress and put the project over budget, according to city's Parks Department.

It's unclear exactly what heavy metals were found or how concentrated the contamination is. As of this posting, the Parks Department has not answered specific questions about the levels of contamination or the steps taken to make the park safe.

Construction at Harris Field (Goulden Avenue and Bedford Park Boulevard) started in April of 2008 and is slated for completion in the fall of this year. It is one of dozens of Bronx parks projects stemming from the Department of Enviornmental Protection's Croton Water Filtration Project in Van Cortlandt Park.

Parks Spokesperson Jesslyn Moser said in an e-mail that the renovations were budgeted at $8.9 million (although the Department of Parks and Recreation web site shows a budget of $9.5 million). When this project was discussed in August of 2007, the budget was estimated at $6.8 million.

The original renovations included rebuilding six fields, adding three staircases and handicapped access, a picnic area, fitness/exercise station, a play area for 5 to 12 year olds, a water spray area and a play area for toddlers.

Now, according to the Department of Parks and Recreation Web site, the scope of the project appears to be limited to reconstruction of six athletic fields, three new staircases, and ADA access leading into the park.

Harris Field is oddly raised above all the surrounding land on three out of four sides.

Harris Field used to be a part of the Jerome Park Reservoir. The Department of Water Supply, Gas & Electricity acquired the land in 1895, but then returned it to the city in 1917.

During the time that the Department of Water owned the land, a basin was created as a filter for the reservoir. The filter part of reservoir was never completed and it was later filled. It's not clear exactly what material was used to fill it.

Harris Field was acquired by the Parks Department in 1940.


  1. Hmmmmmmm .........good catch!

    I am not so sure they filled in Harris Field. I thought there was only a plan that was discarded. I guess the record would show that. Another suspect for heavy metal contamination would be the DEP working on the south east corner of Harris Park for what seems like decades for the Third Water Tunnel. It depends on where the contamination was found.

  2. Karen,

    Thanks for the DEP tip, I'll definitely ask them about that.

    As far as I know, the east side basin for the reservoir was dug, but may not have been used. The basin was filled in (unclear yet what materials were used to fill it) around 1907.

  3. I forwarded this article on to the PTA at Bronx HS Science, whose students frequent the park. I've been lobbying vs.artificial turf and pro-creation of an O.U.E.L. for years. ***mricle***

  4. Half of the whole park is done already, but I don't understand why they aren't finishing the Baseball fences, only two small sides that are half finished, but I have seen no work done on them since the beginning of the school year, us students need Harris Field for some extracurriculars.


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