YONKERS, N.Y. – Ann-Marie Mitroff spent Saturday afternoon walking around the new Van der Donck Park in Yonkers and talking to people who were amazed that the river setting used to be a parking lot.
“I think it's an amazing piece of work because it brings us all closer to the river,” she said. “In a very urban area, it's a surprise and delight when people find water.”
The new park highlights the Saw Mill River just before it reaches the Hudson River. The Saw Mill River had been covered and inaccessible to the public at the site. Now, residents will be able to walk alongside and over the river, which includes tidal waters from the Hudson.
City officials and residents celebrated the new park during the 20th annual Yonkers Riverfest, an outdoor festival that drew several thousand people to the riverfront and Larkin Plaza. The festival included several music stages, dozens of carnival games, food, a car show and children's activities.
Mitroff is the river program director at GroundWork Hudson Valley, one of the community organizations that worked with the city of Yonkers on the new park. She's been working for the past decade on the project.
“For a while there were all these issues about people missing the parking for the DMV,” she said. “I think those people have gotten over it now that they see it's here and it's not a bunch of dirt and noise.”