Today’s news:

Keane Square going green

Everyone is talking about going green, and now the phenomenon has come to Keane Square in Pelham Bay.

Long suffering from blight despite a core group of loyal park users, the square at the corner of Buhre and Westchester avenues, which doubles as a war memorial, will now be receiving greenery and shrubbery. Nearby at Hobart and Westchester avenues the Michael Crescenzo Triangle, named for the “Mayor of Pelham Bay” and former Pelham Bay Taxpayers president, will also get flowers and shrubs, being transformed from a concrete island into a lush green space.

The Greenstreets program has been cut by the city, but Councilman James Vacca was able to secure funding from the city’s capital budget to keep the program going in his district.

“We have concrete islands that I would like to make green,” Vacca said. “In Pelham Bay, we are redoing Keane Square with flowers and shrubbery. It makes a noticeable difference and I think we are ahead of the curve when we talk about going green.”

Vacca said that he hopes to receive more capital money in this year’s budget for several other spots he has designated for plantings. His funds have already been used to do plantings on two traffic islands in Westchester Square, near Hutchinson River Parkway and Zulette Avenue, and at Jarvis Avenue and Middletown Road.

“When you get out of your car and walk, you get the full impact,” Vacca said. “Aesthetically, it really adds to the community.”

City Parks Department spokesperson Jesslyn Moser said that residents can expect the landscape of Keane Square to be dramatically different.

“We are landscaping Keane Square this spring to complement the sitting area and create a garden experience for visitors,” Moser said. “As part of the project, we will establish lush plantings around the war memorial, create a new planting bed, and add protective fencing around the beds. The plantings will include sweetgum trees, ornamental grasses, daffodils, and roses.”

Moser said that the construction, which began on Monday, May 24, is expected to take roughly two to three weeks. The full list of the plantings includes American sweetgum, Winter King hawthorne, Taunton yew, yucca, knockout roses, northern sea oats, Elijah Blue, and daffodils.

President of the Pelham Bay Taxpayers and Community Association Ed Romeo said that he sees the plantings as a positive improvement to the sitting area in Keane Square, which has had some problems with drinking and drug use.

“I am not a fan of some of the element that hangs out in that triangle,” Romeo said. “Keane Square is a war memorial and that should be the number one way we think of it. The plantings should also be indicative of the quality of shopping in the area. We really pushed hard to get Michael Crescenzo triangle done too.”

Reach reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742-3393 or procchio@cnglocal.com.

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