Access Starlight Park’s northern boundary is marked by the blue steel 174th St. Bridge. At the southern end of the park, paddlers should look out for a concrete low-head dam, or weir, protruding from the water at low tide. The Bronx River Alliance headquarters will be built near the weir, with a boat ramp and a floating dock to allow passage around the obstruction. Until then, paddlers can safely pass over the weir at least two hours before or after low tide. Check tide charts when planning your trip. (Park estimated to open in 2012.)
History This property is the once and future site of Starlight Park. Starlight Park has long been known for its many ballfields and basketball courts, but few people know that a river runs through the length of the park. The park is named after a nearby amusement park that once entertained locals on the east side of the river between World Wars I and II. The original Starlight Park closed around 1940, and later the Cross-Bronx Expressway sliced through its remains.
Today's Starlight Park is on the west bank of the river, and its boundaries are defined by the Sheridan Expressway to the west, the river to the east, the 174th Street Bridge to the north, and the northern terminus of Edgewater Rd. to the south. In recent years, local groups have discovered the park's waterfront and have begun to monitor the conditions of the river, host canoe trips, pick up shoreline debris, and plant native trees. When the New York State National Guard came to the river to remove 22 cars from the streambed, local groups assisted with the mapping and removal.
In 2007-08, the New York State Department of Transportation and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks) began a complete reconstruction of the park, including waterfront access, a floating dock, comfort station, and boathouse. Due to contamination found on the site, the reconstruction of the park is on hold until all contaminated areas are properly cleaned. The community groups in the area are leading the effort with local elected officials and NYC Parks to ensure proper clean up. Site Description
The East 173rd Street Site is a roughly 10 acre parcel located in an urban portion of the Bronx. The site is bounded by the Sheridan Expressway to the west and by the Bronx River to the south and east. The site is a public park, but is undergoing renovation work so it is vacant at this time. The surrounding parcels are a combination of commercial, industrial, roadways, and railroad rights-of-way. The nearest residential areas are approximately .1 miles to the east and west of the site. Prior use of the site as a manufactured gas plant has led to site contamination with coal tar and purifier waste. The remedial work has been completed and the site has been returned to the control of the New York Citry Department of Parks and Recreation. The Department is awaiting the submission of the completion report for the remedial action.
Site Environmental Assessment
The primary contaminants of concern at this site are benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene (BTEX), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and cyanide. Investigations indicate a plume of groundwater contamination under the site that extends to the property line to the east and subsurface soil contamination due to the presence of dense nonaqueous phase liquids and purifier waste. Exceedances of standards, criteria, and guidance include BTEX and PAHs in groundwater and and subsurface soils. A study was conducted to determine if the site had impacted the adjacent Bronx River. The site currently presents a significant environmental threat due to the ongoing releases of contaminants from source areas into the groundwater, however this is anticipated to change once the completion report detailing the amount of source material was removed is received and the groundwater monitoring begins.
Site Health Assessment
The proposed remedy includes the removal of waste material and covering the site with a minimum of 3 feet of soil. Public water is provided to the area, thereby preventing exposures to groundwater. Data indicate that groundwater discharges are not adversely affecting the quality of water in the Bronx River. Exposures to site related contamination in the Bronx River should be minimal since fish advisories are in effect and there are no permitted bathing facilities.