Yesterday, I joined the Parks Department, the Port Authority, the Trust for Public Land and Community Board 1 in cutting the ribbon on the North Shore's newest park, at the site of the former Blissenbach Marina. For more about the ceremony, check out the Staten Island Advance's coverage of the event.
Below is an excerpt from my remarks at the opening.
I’m pleased not just because today we’re officially opening another sorely needed patch of green space on the North Shore of Staten Island, but also because this place is very special to me.
My parents grew up just up the street from here, back in the day when freight trains rumbled along the North Shore of Staten Island, and this space was nothing but a gravel patch with natural flora and fauna. When my dad was a child, he used to come down here and swim in the Kill van Kull.
I, too, played here when I was growing up. We didn’t have iPhones and iPads to entertain ourselves. We didn’t even have parks and playgrounds nearby. So we improvised. We used our imaginations.
Now, a few years later, as adult living on and representing the North Shore, there are few things I enjoy more than watching the mighty ships come in and out of the harbor, ferrying goods between the Port of New York and points all over the world. Watching these ships come in and out of the Kill van Kull is a constant reminder that our waterfronts are economic engines that helped build our city and continue to do so today.
But our waterfronts are more than that. In recent decades, we New Yorkers have reclaimed them as treasures to be enjoyed by our residents. And as chair of the City Council’s Waterfronts Committee, I work to strike a balance, to ensure that our waterfronts remain economic engines while also ensuring that New Yorkers can enjoy the beauty of our waterfronts.
Heritage Park brings these two elements of the waterfront together. These three beautiful acres – with benches, paths and views of the Kill van Kull and Bayonne Bridge offer a peaceful refuge from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives – as well as a reminder of the economic activity that our waterfronts have fostered for centuries.
This park conjures memories of the past. It provides a peaceful respite in the present. And it is also forward thinking. The resilient design of Heritage Park ensures that this space will be enjoyed not only by us, but by our children and grandchildren as well.
And speaking of grandchildren, my daughter in law is expecting my second grandchild in less than a month. When my grandchildren are walking and talking, I look forward to bringing them down here, leaving behind iPhones, iPads and whatever else comes next, and sharing with them my memories and the memories of my parents. My grandchildren will be fourth generation Staten Islanders, and there will be no better place than Heritage Park to share with them their heritage.
And so I want to thank Gov. Cuomo, former Gov. Paterson, the Port Authority, the Trust for Public Land, and Community Board 1, with a very special shout out to Linda Eskanas, who persisted with a vision for many years. Together, we made Heritage Park a reality.