Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fall colors in Isham

The memorial terrace in Isham Park. 
Fours years have passed since VIP started this border garden
with direction from Parks Gardener Dorothy Rowan and
assistance from NYC Parks and the Partnerships for Parks.
Fall this year has been slow and dry and has created a burnished effect in foliage and grass.  Not as technicolor as some years, but very beautiful even so.  No two years are alike in the park; each has its own special quality.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Update on Archeology in Isham Park from NYC Parks

Isham Park update, Oct. 20, 2014
Excavation work on the water service improvement project ceased operations last week after oyster shells surfaced at the former site of the Isham estate near Park Terrace East road, indicating possible presence of archaeological resources.  Parks researched the history of soil disturbance in the park and met on site with Amanda Sutphin, Director of Archaeology at NYC Landmarks who determined the visible areas of excavation did not contain any significant resources. 

Ms. Sutphin requested that Parks adopt an Unanticipated Discoveries Plan to guide the contractor’s employees and Park’s onsite construction supervisors in the event that something significant is found during future excavations.  The site is historically important for Native American and Revolutionary War activities although its development as an estate in the late 19th century, and as a park in the early 20th century, are presumed to have altered the earlier conditions. 

The Unanticipated Discoveries Plan will serve as a guiding document for excavations conducted on-site and require work to cease, and LPC to be consulted, should any archaeological resources surface during construction.  

Jennifer M. Hoppa
Administrator Northern Manhattan Parks
   Executive Director Fort Tryon Park Trust
   Fort Tryon Park Cottage
   741 Fort Washington Avenue
   New York, NY 10040

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Summer 2014 album of VIP maintenance work

August, W. 213th: Soil & weeds had accumulated in front of the retaining wall

After: W. 213th entrance; VIP broom at right.
Over the past few months, Isham Park has been a construction site for the restoration of its water service, a project planned by NYC Parks since the summer of 2011. 

Volunteers for Isham Park have worked on an ongoing basis in Isham Park during these months, a few hours each weekend collecting garbage and weeding and sweeping stone paths and terraces.

VIP have also worked on Friday mornings with Parks Gardener Dorothy Rowan, assisting her with weeding of the many entrance gardens in Isham Park.  We have worked as well to maintain the garden VIP installed with Dorothy's guidance and help around the west side of the memorial terrace in 2010 (see June 2014 blog post), along the path to the southwest and east, and in what we have come to call the "margin garden" along the east side of the Park Terrace West sidewalk, also begun in 2009-10. 

September: South path steps after weeding.

The park responds well to such specific care; its beauty is magnified and its history foregrounded.  

Please come out to help on Saturday mornings from 9am-12 noon.  For more information email:

Please note that, due to construction, VIP is not planning a fall 2014 It's My Park Day event.  However, the regular maintenance will continue and special work days may be announced.

Memorial terrace after Beech tree debris was removed and weeding & sweeping.
During the summer one of the remaining large Beech trees on the lower bed to the east split and fell on the memorial terrace; VIP assisted Parks with removal of the debris and then weeded and swept the terrace.  This was the second damage to the tree which lost a major portion of its trunk during hurricane Sandy in October 2012. This tree is one of four planted specifically at the site when the memorial was constructed.  Another of the four trees was lost earlier, after it split in a similar manner and was removed.
Fallen Beech tree, memorial terrace.

Detail of the PTW Margin Garden.
North path steps after crabgrass & locust tree sapling removal. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Tomorrow is It's My Park Day in Isham Park

Tomorrow, Saturday June 28, 2014 from 9:30am to 12:30pm, Volunteers for Isham Park (VIP) is hosting It's My Park Day in Isham Park.

This is the 9th consecutive IMPD hosted by VIP.  The Parks Gardener along with VIP will assist those who attend in weeding and mulching the gardens in the area surrounding the stone memorial terrace built to commemorate the gifts of land from the Isham family that created this beautiful NYC park, originally celebrated in September 1912.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Construction set to begin in Isham Park

On Tuesday the 27th of May, construction is set to begin on the long awaited restoration of water service for Isham Park.  The project was funded during the tenure of NYC Council Member Robert Jackson during the summer of 2011.

Jennifer Hoppa, Administrator for Northern Manhattan Parks sent out this letter today:

Dear Friends of Isham Park,

I wanted to make sure you knew that the Isham Park Water Service construction contractor is slated to start work in Isham Park next Tuesday, May 27th.  The capital contract involves several work areas:
-along Seaman and Isham Street
-at Seaman Avenue and 214th
-the Isham Alley at 212th Street
-Up along the perimeter of Bruce's Garden at Park Terrace East and Park Terrace East Circle.  (No work will take place inside the confines of Bruce's Garden.)
-At the [Isham] Family Memorial Bench Circle
-At the bluestone circle area on the upper lawn

NYC Parks has worked with the local girlscout troups in the Alley to transplant plants so that they won't be compromised during the Alley's water line installation and drainage swale installation.   Our gardeners will also be moving some shrubs at Seaman/Isham and Seaman/214th Street to new locations to make room for RPZ's (backflow preventers as required by DEP) for water service.

As part of this contract and related to it, Parks has identified four storm damaged trees that are dying and/or destabilized that will need to be removed.  These are invasive Norway Maples on the slope up from 212th Street (and some members of the community have long requested that these potential dangers be removed).  One other tree slated to come out is just the shaft of a black locust (no branches or leaves).   As you may have noticed, several new trees have already been planted along the Seaman Avenue perimeter of Isham Park, as part of our street tree planting contract.  Also, replacement trees have been installed along Park Terrace West.  

NYC Parks developed a draft  Landscape Plan for Isham Park, a part of which identified tree species to install in the park to enhance the landscape and replace some lost trees.  As the water service project advances, we will meet with the community again to get their input on this plan before doing any installations (which will occur post water service construction project, so there will be access to water for sustaining the trees during their establishment period).

Let me know if you have any questions.
Jennifer M. Hoppa

Jennifer M. Hoppa
Administrator Northern Manhattan Parks
Executive Director Fort Tryon Park Trust
F 212.543.1020

NYC Parks
Fort Tryon Park Cottage
741 Fort Washington Avenue
New York, NY 10040

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Tulips & Daffodils planted last fall are blooming!

Last October's bulb planting on It's My Park Day have resulted in lovely displays of Daffodils and Tulips in Isham Park. 

Thank you to New Yorkers for Parks who supplied the Daffodil bulbs that have so brightened Park Terrace West's curved bed above Seaman Avenue.

Thank you to everyone who planted and mulched the bulbs last fall including Friends of Indian Road Playground and VIPs; special thanks to the Fordham University Circle K team of five unstop-able helpers!  

Also thank you to Dorothy Rowan, Parks Gardener, and Partnerships for Parks Volunteer Coordinator Shamell Martin for help organizing tools and bulbs deliveries, Parks staff for the mulch delivery, and for Tulips that have been blooming south of the memorial terrace in Isham Park!  Beautiful!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


MARCH 16th from 10am to 12 noon

WORK AREAS (late arrivals)



High temperature 43 F + partly cloudy

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

VIP honored at the close of 2013

In his last act as a New York City Council Member, Robert Jackson, honored four community organizations for their transformative service to Northern Manhattan and two exceptional community residents in the 7th Council District for their perseverance and generosity.  

For the last 12 years Jackson has proudly represented parts of Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights, West Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood. In his final day as a City Council Member, Jackson will highlight community organizations that work quietly and diligently to better the communities of District 7. Because of their size and the quick pace of their work these organizations are seldom recognized for the high impact work they do in beautifying public parks, providing essential social services, promoting tourism to the district, and raising HIV/AIDS awareness in communities of color. Two individuals who through their persistence, dedication and kindness have brought inspiration and set the example for those around them will also be honored tomorrow. Ramón Minaya has run 46 marathons throughout the United States and Mariella Rueda donated her bone marrow to a total stranger- these individuals inspire all of us to do better. See full list of honorees below:

Jewish Community Council of  Washington Heights & Inwood 
Harlem One Stop 
Volunteers For Isham Park 
Convent Avenue Baptist Church’s Healing Hope Ministry 
Mr. Ramón Minaya 
Ms. Mariella D. Rueda