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The City of White Plains has been awarded two State and Municipal Facilities Program (SAM) grants totaling $600,000 from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY).
Of the two grants, $500,000 has been given to fund improvements to Delfino Park, including the construction of a new covered pavilion/picnic area and the rehabilitation of the basketball courts, and $100,000 will go to construct a Veterans Memorial Garden behind City Hall and create a native plant meadow in the Battle Hill neighborhood along Route 119.
Using the grant, the basketball courts at Delfino Park will get repaved, graded and receive new baskets, stanchion poles and rims.
The grading, Commissioner of Recreation and Parks Wayne Bass explained, is the most important aspect of the rehabilitation because the courts currently slope.
“It’s very hard to play a real game on a sloping basketball court,” Bass said.
With a new covered pavilion and picnic area, parkgoers will have a rain cover for barbeques, family reunions and other outdoor events. The space, which will be able to accommodate about 100 people, will be outfitted with new grills and picnic tables. It will also be graded and leveled out.
Roughly $52,000 of the $100,000 grant will go toward the construction of the Veterans Memorial Garden, purchase of plaques for each branch of the military that will be inlaid and creation of a new base for the USS Maine deck gun that will be brought to the garden.
“The garden will serve as a complement to the city’s war memorials, which are in the rotunda of City Hall, and provide a [permanent] home for the deck gun,” said Karen Pasquale, Senior Advisor to the Mayor.
Councilwoman Victoria Presser commended the location of the Veterans Memorial Garden, which will make it accessible to many, and Councilwoman Jennifer Puja said how thrilled she is to see the project finally come to fruition.
“I think it’s long overdue,” Puja said.
The remainder of the $100,000 grant will go to creating a native plant meadow at the base of the Battle Hill neighborhood, which will have a walking path through it and benches. Complete with native plants, trees and shrubs, the meadow will be a tremendous asset to the area and attract pollinator species, Pasquale said.
“We’ll be planting a lot of trees, so it’s really a restoration and partial reforestation of an area that was a parking lot,” Mayor Tom Roach said. “It is an opportunity to bring a native plant environment to a part of the city that is really under stress environmentally.”
The native plant meadow, which Pasquale said will be the largest in Westchester County to their knowledge, will join the small native plant garden outside the White Plains Library, which attracts native bees and birds.
“It’s a unique project and an area of environmentalism that’s sometimes overlooked, but it’s vital to maintain species,” Roach said.
Both grants require that the city enters into a funding agreement with DASNY, which expires three years after it is signed. Roach has requested that the Common Council approve ordinances authorizing the funding agreements at the Feb. 7 meeting.
In the past, White Plains received SAM grants to conduct renovations to Court Street and the Kittrell Park and pool.
Bailey has journalism experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties and New York City on topics related to LGBTQ+ issues, women’s rights, climate change, the environment, and local politics. They have been a full-time reporter with Examiner Media since July 2021. Read more details from Bailey’s bio here. Read Bailey’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/baileyhosfelt/