NYRP: Press Release

Rolling Stones’ Keyboardist and N.Y. Giants Wide-Receiver Team to Plant Forest in America’s Largest Concrete Jungle
Tuesday November 9, 9:27 am ET
Join With Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project to Convert Abandoned 100-Year-Old Park Into Urban Forest

NEW YORK, NY–(MARKET WIRE)–Nov 9, 2004 — The nation’s largest city is getting a little greener today, as Rock n’ Roll legend Chuck Leavell, New York Giants wide-receiver Amani Toomer and local school children team with the New York Restoration Project (NYRP) to help transform a long forgotten Bronx park into a budding urban forest.

In 1904, a small swatch of land along the Bronx River became Bridge Park. Used as a dumping ground for decades, the area sat desolate and forgotten until NYRP stepped in a year ago. Founded by Bette Midler, NYRP restores, develops, and revitalizes under-resourced parks and community gardens in New York City.

A Park Reborn

New York City Department of Parks & Recreation Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh will join Leavell and Toomer to put some finishing touches on the park’s rebirth by planting trees and shrubs, as well as sprucing up the riverside space.

“Today is a textbook example of a private-public partnership working to improve our city,” said Kavanagh. “On behalf of the mayor, we are delighted to work with NYRP, Chuck and Amani to give Bridge Park back to its neighbors and bring a taste of the forest to New York City. Thanks to this effort, Bridge Park will become the safe, green space that city officials envisioned a century ago,” he added.

Planting the Roots of a Forest

Leavell, Toomer, Kavanagh and 20 NYRP field crew will spend the day planting trees native to the area including willow oak, dogwood and pine oak. The children will help by planting smaller shrubs, such as witch hazel and clethra. A cedar chip walking path will also be created.

“The goal is to create a balanced ecosystem for the young forest,” Leavell said. “NYRP and I share a love of helping make a community stronger by adding more trees and educating kids about the importance of forests and nature.”

A Rock ‘n Roller’s Thing for Trees

Leavell is more than just a talented musician. He is a dedicated tree farmer and author of “Forever Green: The History and Hope of the American Forest” as well as his new book, “Between Rock and a Home Place.” On Charlene Plantation, Leavell’s working forest in Georgia, he tends to more than 2,000 acres of land.

“Being able to bring the beauty of the forest to the Bronx is something truly special,” Leavell said. “I always love sharing my passion for trees with children, especially those who have little experience with the forests.”

NY Giants ’03 Man of the Year

Toomer, selected as the NY Giants 2003 “Man of the Year,” is no stranger to charity and has been heavily involved with civic work around New York since being drafted by the Giants in 1996. He created the “Amani Toomer Foundation” and “Toomer Urban Recreation Fund” to support after school programs for children.

Editor’s Note: Toomer, Leavell, Kavanagh and Amy Gavaris from NYRP will be available for interviews on-site at Bridge Park beginning at 11 a.m.

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