New sprinklers at the forefront of Bronxville beautification efforts


The banks alongside the Pondfield Road underpass, seen here, will no longer be an eyesore filled with wilted plant life and weeds. Through the combined efforts of the village DPW and the volunteer Bronxville Beautification Council, a new irrigation system has been installed to keep plant life along the railroad banks hydrated. Photo/Daniel Offner

In an effort to maintain some of the plant life found along the village’s railroad banks, a public-private partnership between the village Department of Public Works and the Bronxville Beautification Council have agreed to split the cost needed to install a new irrigation system.

Founded in the late 1970s by residents Alice and Burton Pollin, the Beautification Council serves as a collective of volunteers concerned about the upkeep and landscaping efforts of the village.

Village Justice George McKinnis, Bronxville’s longest sitting judge and chairman of the counsel, said the new sprinkler system marks the end of a four-year project, which will allow plant life to thrive on both sides of the Pondfield Road underpass.

“We put a lot of effort into this,” said McKinnis, 76. “With the help of the DPW, we have together completely renovated both banks.”

According to McKinnis, the council’s efforts along the railroad banks initially started as a project to remove unsightly weeds and dead ivy from the area and replace it with new ivy and daffodils. However, a year ago, members of the DPW found they didn’t have the ability to water each of the plants as needed, and a great deal of ivy wilted and died.

“We split the cost with the village…so we will never again have plants die,” McKinnis said. “This will also allow young plants to establish themselves and grow.”

In addition, the council hired landscapers with Olmstead to remove unwanted bushes and tree seedlings. The group has also worked with the DPW to fill in depressions with soil, as well as laying down mulch and a biodegradable mesh that will now hold the soil as thousands of ivy and spring blooming plants were installed.

Basking in the foliage sprawled throughout the village, several residents and merchants have taken notice of the council’s landscaping efforts.

“I think the village is doing a nice job…the overpass really looks beautiful,” said Anna Kenney, an employee with Tryforos Florists on Pondfield Road.

Bronxville Mayor Mary Marvin, a Republican, recently told The Town Report that the final stage of the railroad banks project will focus on refurbishing the plateau near Studio Arcade. She said the group’s concept involves tables for chess and benches—similar to those found in New York City’s famed Washington Square Park—reconfigured to create a relaxing park-like atmosphere.

“Many villagers have commented how lush and beautiful spring was in Bronxville this year,” Marvin said. “One longtime resident related that she felt she lived in her own botanical garden.”

Each year, the Beautification Council solicits donations through a spring fundraiser mailing, which generates an average of $23,000 annually. The funds are then used to further the objective of undertaking other public beautification projects. However, for McKinnis—who is elected to the roll of village justice—he stated that he does not partake in solicitation on behalf of the beautification council .