Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe today joined City Council Member Oliver Koppell, Congress Member Eliot Engel, Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, Bronx Community Board 8 Chair Robert Fanuzzi, Bronx Community Board 8 Parks Committee Chair Bob Bender, and veterans and co-founders of the Memorial Grove Restoration Group Herb Barret and Don Tannen to cut the ribbon on restorations to the Van Cortlandt Park Memorial Grove. The Grove is located in Van Cortlandt Park along West 246th Street in between Broadway and the Van Cortlandt Mansion.
“The Van Cortlandt Park Memorial Grove serves as a living tribute to members of the Bronx community who served and gave their lives for our country,” said Commissioner Benepe. “We are grateful for the funding allocation from Council Member Koppell to restore this site, allowing us to refurbish existing plaques, recreate missing plaques, and mount the plaques on new granite foundations. We are also thankful for the advocacy from local veterans who have regularly hosted Veterans Day events at the Memorial Grove to ensure that this remains a place of reverence and reflection.”
The Van Cortlandt Park Memorial Grove was created to honor Bronx veterans who served in World War II and Korea. Thanks to the advocacy of veterans Herb Barret and Don Tannen, and an allocation of $250,000 in capital funds from City Council Member Oliver Koppell, Parks refurbished the existing 24 plaques, recreated the 15 missing plaques and mounted all 39 plaques on new granite foundations. Additional plantings, seating and fencing were installed as part of the design to stabilize soil erosion and to further distinguish the area as a place of reverence.
The Memorial Grove was originally planted as a living tribute to the local servicemen who lost their lives while fighting for their country. It was designed in 1949 by the Parks Department and the Peter G. Lehman Post No. 8646 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. A variety of oak trees including northern red, scarlet, and pin oaks were planted to give shade and create a tranquil area for reflective contemplation. The oak tree is a common symbol of strength and endurance and was fittingly used to honor the memory of those who served in the wars.