Wakefield, The Bronx, NY – October 24, 2011. Saturday, October 22nd, the sun rose heartily and from 7:30A – 4:30P, waves of Bronx leadership came to Bissel Gardens. Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Senator Ruth Hassel-Thompson, Annie O’Connor from Council Member Oliver G. Koppell’s Office and, Father Gorman, President of Community Board 12. They, along with Bissel Gardens members, friends, neighbors and families with children, came to honor the gardens’ founder, Marie Teresa Scalera, and celebrate the opening of the newly renovated Children’s Garden.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz who allocated the funds to Bissel in 2005 through a Dormitory Capital grant, cut the pastel ribbons with a pair of left-handed hedge shears just after he arrived at noon and signed an original poster rendering of the new garden by Bronx artist, Jose Maldonado. Ruth Hassell-Thompson brought her grandson and talked action steps to improve further the landscape of the community with Russel LeCount, President of Bissel Gardens. Annie O’Connor read a beautiful Proclamation from Oliver G. Koppell’s Office about Ms. Scalera’s history of goodworks. Meg Hunnewell, Treasurer and an Echoing Green semi-finalist, Board Chairman, Jim Lane and members, Ovett Jones and Heather Warren-Dombrowa guided guests through the landscaped garden executed by Ken Price of K.W. Price Landscaping. Ken was there with his firefighter son, Kenny. Also in attendance, Claudia Powell, David White, the Edmonds ladies, Sulan Chin, Debra Carter with her son, Glen Parsons, his brother Stanley, Jerry and Mr. Green – Bissel gardeners all. There were many, many friends and a number of curious, new faces. Edith Kean, formerly of GreenThumb and a NY Botanical Gardens Board Member designed the overall plan for the 2.5 acres of gardens with Ms. Scalera and the Children’s Garden.
In 1992, Ms. Scalera brought together residents from the community and cleaned up the two and a half acre sliver of land along the de-classified street, Bissel Avenue between Baychester and Bruner Avenues. A long term beautification project, propagation site and community gardens oasis was the result. Working with the residents to develop and maintain the gardens over the years were volunteers from NY Cares and other CBO’s.
Bissel is maintained and supported by its gardening volunteers and members as well as by donations from Council Member Oliver G. Koppell, District 11, Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, The River Foundation, BIEE, Office of Family and Children’s Services, Department of Youth and Community Development, the Department of Sanitation, MTA, DOT, GreenThumb, NY Cares and Citizens Committee. NYRP helped Bissel gardeners construct the Amish gazebo classroom and the new beds.
Schools and community residents with school age children interested in gardening and the educational programs at Bissel should send an inquiry to: Administrator, Bissel Children’s Garden, 111 John Street, Suite 1070, NYC, NY 10038 or call and leave a message: 646-599-4470. Online, contact info@BisselGardens.org or follow postings at www.bisselgardens.org.