To the editor:
(re: “After years of debate, paved Putnam Trail reopens,” Oct. 15)
As co-chairs of the Van Cortlandt Park Alliance, we found the recent story about the Putnam Greenway improvements missed the mark by ignoring the thousands of voices of Van Cortlandt Park users who support and appreciate increased access to the park’s excellent green space.
We want to make sure those voices are heard.
We know nature and humans can and must co-exist in New York City’s precious open spaces, and we can increase access as we support our natural environment. The brand-new Putnam Greenway provides 1.5 miles of accessible natural and recreational trail that makes it possible for people of all abilities to enjoy the park, and seamlessly connect its users to many miles of open, green trails through Westchester County and beyond.
It’s only been open for a short time, but those of us with the Van Cortlandt Park Alliance already have observed folks in wheelchairs, families with strollers, and senior citizens with walkers availing themselves of the newly paved pathway, flanked on both sides by native trees, shrubs and grasses.
Many of us remember the narrow, deeply rutted and frequently flooded path that was hard for many people to enjoy. On the new Putnam Greenway, we can now witness the delicate dance between environmental protection and human need that occurs successfully in so many of New York City’s finest parks.
The park always has been an essential presence in the lives of our community. But during the pandemic, it has become, for some, a lifeline. For those looking to stay mentally and physically healthy, Van Cortlandt Park is an outdoor gym, a nature retreat, and a classroom. It’s a place to meet friends, to observe wildlife, to take a break from online work, to daydream.
The new Putnam Greenway enhances park users’ ability to do all of these things.
But it also stands in service to nature. With more than 400 new trees planted along its shoulder, the greenway biosphere will continue to mature and attract many species of wildlife. Our partners in the city’s parks department took the utmost care to protect the nearby wetlands and ensure the continued growth of the urban forest where it sits.
We are eager to see how it evolves with time.
For most of the community, the opening of the Putnam Greenway is one of the best things that’s happened in the Bronx all year. The Van Cortlandt Park Alliance is proud of the work that went into creating this new attraction, and welcomes you to visit, volunteer and support our efforts.
Nina Habib Spencer