Wednesday, October 01, 2014

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Bronx Neighbors Wants Future Metro-North Stop Named After Area's Distant Past

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TWC News: Bronx Neighbors Wants Future Metro-North Stop Named After Area's Distant Past
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People from the Bronx neighborhood known as Van Nest want to make their history is not overlooked when it comes to naming a nearby proposed rail station that will open by the end of the decade. Borough reporter Erin Clarke filed the following report.

More Metro-North service through a new station in the Bronx seems like a win for everyone.

"It would be accessible to in and out of the neighborhood to the train station and getting to and from downtown, so it's very convenient, I think," said one local.

The original plans called for naming the new station for the Parkchester neighborhood, right across the street. Residents there said that makes sense.

"I think if you should give it a name it should be named 'Parkchester stop,'" a resident said.

Except for one thing -- the station would actually be in another neighborhood, Van Nest.

Does the name of the station actually matter if residents in the neighborhood will get Metro-North access? Van Nest residents say it does because the neighborhood has already lost so much and they want to preserve its history.

"If you allow little chunks to be taken away, then you'll turn around one day and it will all be gone. We had the Van Nest library, the Van Nest Post office. That's gone," said Bernadette Ferrara, the vice president of the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance.

The history being lost is that of the Van Nest family. Oddly enough, they never lived in the Bronx. New Haven Railroad Company director Abraham Van Nest named the original station there after the family.

The station closed in the early 1900s but appears in a photo from that era.

"It shows a various number of soldiers who were at the station waiting to be transported, I guess to be deported out to fight the Spanish-American War," said Richard Vitacco of the East Bronx History Forum.

Part of that station's platform still exists where the new station would be built. Van Nest Residents want the new station to reflect that history.

An Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesperson says the agency will work with the community to pick the best name. People in Van Nest say they are willing to compromise.

"We're OK with sharing the name, we just want to make sure it's in there," Ferrara said.

The project is still in the early stages and could become a reality in 2019.

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