Coalition Save Brust Park 0


24 people have signed this petition. Add your name now!
Coalition Save Brust Park 0 Comments
24 people have signed. Add your voice!
Maxine K. signed just now
Adam B. signed just now






Brust Park is one of the oldest parks in Fieldston, Riverdale. The City bought this property on December 30th, 1882 through condemnation and Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia named it Brust Square in March 29th, 1940 in memory of Corporal Charles Brust, a Bronx resident and soldier who gave his life in World War I. Commissioner Henry Stern named it Brust Park in 1997. [1]

Brust Park is composed of a lower and upper section. The lower section is cradled within Waldo Avenue, Manhattan College Parkway and 242nd street, including the undeveloped portion of 242nd Street which borders block 5778 - lot 890 known as 3893 Waldo Avenue. The upper section starts at Greystone Avenue and borders Manhattan College Parkway to the north. The park ends at Fieldston Road. As visitors walk in the meandering stone trail intersecting the park from east to west, they enjoy the garden by the entrance of the park, a small pond, a green flat area for play and recreation, wooden benches for seating, the sounds of a flowing brook as they climb the stone steps as well as a large and healthy designated wild forest area with more than 15 types of trees. [2] In the upper section of Brust Park there is a playground for children, benches and tables to sit outdoors and like the lower section of the park, residents of Riverdale can delight in nature, looking at the variety of flowers, trees and wildlife prominent in this parkland, each season completely different and breathtaking in its beauty. Brust Park also brings the diverse population of Riverdale together. Sometimes, Manhattan College students gather in the park to engage in different activities, one time a student was playing his violin late at night surrounded by the dark canopy of trees, other times the Stewards of Brust Park organize It’s my park community days in which volunteers help with gardening and beautifying the park. Seniors also chat, read and sunbathe in the park while children run around and discover the wonders of nature. As a true sanctuary from the hectic life in NYC, Brust Park is a place where different communities and different demographic groups come together to be in nature and as a result people get to know each other, fostering a positive atmosphere of understanding and empathy for all. The City purchased Brust Park two decades before the rapid development of the Delafield Estate in Fieldstone, this decision saved Brust Park, its ecosystems and wildlife. The healthy and thriving forest in Brust Park, with trees older than the park itself provides quality of air for all of us. With the effects of global warming displacing and devastating communities worldwide, we need to protect this old forest, with more urgency today than ever before.

Fieldston and the surrounding area of Brust Park was developed at a greater speed once the Interborough Rapid Transit subway was extended to West 242nd Street in 1908. The 257 acres of land known as Fieldston, purchased by Major Joseph Delafield in 1829 became available for purchase to interested developers in 1910 by Delafield’s heirs. According to the Fieldston Historic District Designation Report, the Delafield Estate slowly built the infrastructure in Fieldston (installing sewers, water, gas and later electricity) creating the conditions for people to inhabit and develop the land slowly. Because the Delafield Estate had complete ownership of the entire land, including roads and wooded areas, they avoided the standard grid system imposed by the rest of New York City, resulting in a city design that took into consideration the original woodland, rocky terrain that impeded developers at the time from changing this landscape. [3] Past developers adhered by these rules. “Purchasers may thus secure, within the limits named, as much ground as they deem necessary for the proper landscape treatment of the wooded knolls, dells and hillocks.” [4] Because of these early developing rules, Riverdale is unique in its varying terrains, winding streets and pockets of green between historic houses and buildings. Unfortunately, areas surrounding Brust Park, such as lot 890 don’t fall within the perimeters of the Fieldston Historic District and every green space, bedrock, hillocks and original landscape not currently protected is vulnerable to investors and developers even if the terrain is challenging to build such as is in the case of 3893 Waldo Avenue, the property currently bordering Brust Park.

Jeff Torkin has been Secretary of the Fieldston Historic District, and so we believe he must understand fellow residents’ wish to preserve this history. The site of the Historic District calls out that Fieldston is “Noted for its tranquil atmosphere (and) abundance of trees.” In fact, a president of the “FPOA” wrote on the organization’s website, “I’ve been amazed by the sense of pride our homeowners take in our community. I am honored to be serving as President of the Fieldston Property Owners Association and look forward to building on our prior boards’ efforts to enhance the quality of life of Fieldston residents.” The website also upholds Brust Park itself on their Green Spaces page. [5] The neighbors in the vicinity of Riverdale’s Brust Park also are homeowners who appreciate this same tranquility and abundance of trees. Why would a developer who is himself our neighbor wants to destroy or even affect in perpetuity this environment?

Developing lot 890 will negatively impact the health and diversity of our beloved Riverdale’s Brust Park ecosystems by:

1. Casting a permanent shadow in the designated forest area of Brust Park

The old and diverse forest of Brust Park will have permanent shading if a building four to six stories high is built in lot 890. This will diminish the already limited direct sunlight to the fragile forest. Permanent shading could disrupt the natural propagation of the forest and the healthy reproduction of the tree population, potentially minimizing the amount and diversity of trees, in the long term disrupting or destroying this thriving ecosystem.

2. Changing the hydrology of the area

Lot 890 is composed of large outcroppings of Fordham gneiss, like in different areas of Brust Park. The current bedrock in the property is shallow and disrupting it or adding fill to this landscape will forever change its topology and could possibly alter groundwater flows that support the park’s ecosystem and the area’s sewer system. The soil in this lot absorbs storm-water all year round. “The Greenbelt Urban Complex (GUB) and Urban Greenbelt Complex (UGG or UGD) soils in this region of Brust Park are well drained with a medium and high runoff, depending on slope.” [6]. Because the landscape is not developed, stormwater is absorbed by the soil helping the tree population in the park and perhaps contributing to the ephemeral brook now flowing in the lower level of Brust Park. Current efforts are underway to assess the health of the Brust Park stream through looking at the benthic invertebrates in the water by the ecological project manager for Friends of Van Cortlandt Park involved in the “Daylighting Tibbetts Brook Project.”

3. Changing forever the aesthetics of Brust Park

The unique steep topography and winding roads of the area surrounding Brust Park, connect the different neighborhoods, the public land is visible to all of us, even from larger distances. Residents can see the dense population of trees even from the 1 train as they approach 242nd Street. Neighbors living in Dash Place and Greystone Avenue have a view of the trees as well as residents living in Manhattan College Parkway and Waldo Avenue. Students at Manhattan College, seniors at the Methodist Home Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and children on their way to school in Riverdale every day can admire the open and vast view of this public park. Developing lot 890 will obstruct the visibility to Brust Park, especially encroaching its forest, changing forever its aesthetics.

In fact, the NYC Parks Department notes that, “The Bronx parks are important, however, in that they comprise a total park system, as opposed to the haphazard way parks took shape in early Manhattan. In 1881, John Mullaly (honored by Mullaly Park in the Bronx), formed the city's first open–space advocacy organization, the New York Park Association, to advocate for the acquisition of nearly 4,000 acres above the Harlem River. The Association helped secure State legislation in 1883 to establish six large parks and three broad parkways. On December 12, 1888, Bronx, Claremont, Crotona, St. Mary's, Van Cortlandt and Pelham Bay Parks, as well as Crotona, Mosholu and Bronx-Pelham Parkways, were vested to the City of New York, quintupling the City's green space overnight.” [7]

Brust Park itself was created during this historic time frame.

Claims for the protection of the site are not readily believed when we look at the historic Villa Rosa.

Our own local press has chronicled this destruction:,66917,68500,67118

Mr. Torkin penned a letter to the Riverdale Press in February of this year encouraging dialogue between neighbors. The letter reads, in part:

“We very much appreciate the recommendation by Community Board 8 land use committee chair Charles Moerdler that we hold this meeting to bring the parties together for a respectful dialogue.

We hope that this meeting helped to demonstrate our commitment to increasing communication with the community, and we look forward to future meetings and improved relations with our neighbors.” [8]

We, your neighbors, ask you to hold a dialogue with us, and to tell us personally why you seek to develop adjacent to Brust Park.

We ask in the sense of history, the sense of respect for historic military service and recognition, for the preservation of our shared “green spaces,” and with the belief that not all spaces must be developed. We appeal to your sense of charity, as evidenced by your support of a local school,for instance, that you don’t develop this land and rather think about the quality of air, life and equity for all children and the green spaces they will inherit due to your generosity.

We ask simply, Mr. Torkin, “Not in your own backyard.”




[3] Virginia Kurshan, Essays, Fieldston Historic District Designation Report, New York City Landmark Preservation Commission, January 10th, 2006.

[4] Fieldston, Riverdale-On-Hudson, 1911, promotional brochure published by the Delafield Estate.


[6] John Butler’s advice (ecologist) - soils in the regions of Brust Park using NRCS Web Soil Survey.



Share for Success