The Examiner

County Remembers P’ville Firefighter in Park Bridge Ceremony

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County Executive Rob Astorino with Leonard Joyner last week to commemorate a plaque at a Graham Hills Park footbridge that Joyner’s son, Lenny, helped to build.

A footbridge at Graham Hills Park in Mount Pleasant that Leonard “Lenny” Joyner helped build had his name permanently attached to it last week.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino unveiled a plaque remembering the late Pleasantville man during a special Dec. 17 ceremony at the county park. Damp and cold weather didn’t stop about 50 people, including family and friends, from walking through the muddy conditions to help honor a man who did plenty for the community in his 31 years in Pleasantville.

Joyner’s father and mother, Leonard and Lucy, were on hand, along with brothers Trevor and Jerrett.

“It means everything to all of us,” Leonard Joyner said of the honor. “This is just a permanent thing in the community.”

Lenny Joyner died last July in a Colorado mountain climbing accident.

What made the bridge commemoration particularly meaningful is that the structure wouldn’t exist without Joyner, who organized the Eagle Scout project he and other members of Boy Scout Troop 5 undertook. Growing up, Joyner and his friends would often mountain bike throughout the park, eventually sparking the idea to build a bridge. Before that project, there was nothing to help visitors pass over the small stream running through the terrain.

After contacting the county regarding their footbridge proposal, Joyner received the go-ahead and the guidelines to get started. Dragging timbers from the parking lot into the woods, the experience was tiring, but the scouts, including Joyner, pushed on. Their project was completed in May 1997.

“It took them a couple of days to do it but they never complained and got it done,” Leonard Joyner said.

One of Joyner’s fellow scouts, Luke Sotherden, who attended last week’s ceremony, said the scouts were covered head to toe with mud. The project was one of the best memories Sotherden has of Joyner.

Once the bridge was built, Leonard Joyner said he asked the county to consider putting Lenny’s name on it. At the time, officials declined because many people make contributions on the county’s behalf and it’s impossible to honor them all, the elder Joyner was told.

After Lenny’s death, he said the media coverage spurred Westchester officials to call the family and reconsider that position.

“The bridge he built here in Graham Hills was a major undertaking and has proved to be a great enhancement to the park,” Astorino said. “As a father of three, I often visit the park with my children, and now every time we cross this bridge it will be a nice reminder of Lenny and his service to the community.”

The gesture to loosen the rules was fitting because the bridge was not the only time that Joyner, a Pleasantville High School graduate, served the community. He was an associate member of the Pleasantville Fire Department when he wasn’t working as an FDNY paramedic, based at Station 7 on West 23rd Street in Manhattan.

Sotherden said those jobs were a clear indication of what his friend stood for, always looking out for how he could improve people’s lives through community service.

For the next 15 years after the project’s completion, Joyner would often make sure how the bridge was holding up. Now every time someone is enjoying a walk through Graham Hills Park, as Astorino said, they’ll have Joyner in their thoughts.

“It’s a great way to remember Lenny because the thing’s been here for a long time,” Sotherden said. “It’s a solid bridge and Lenny was a pillar in the community.”







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