The Bronxville ~ Eastchester~ Tuckahoe Nature Preserve is a lush property located on the corners of Archer Place and Crawford Street. The land, at a point where the boundaries of the Town of Eastchester and its two villages -- Bronxville and Tuckahoe -- meet, has been an ongoing project by community members to turn a decaying leaf dump into an inviting, vibrant open space, filled with indigenous trees, plants, flowers and bushes. Now, thanks to the creative efforts of Joseph Blau, visitors to The Nature Preserve will be able to identify its varied plantings.
In 2006, Eastchester High School student, Joseph Blau, was one of the first members to serve on The Nature Preserve Youth Advisory Board -- a student group that helped the Preserve develop its vision for the future of the property. That role inspired this Cornell class of 2013 graduate to choose a career as a landscape architect.
While in college, he volunteered to create a brochure for the public that included a plant list for Olivia’s Butterfly Garden, (dedicated to Steering Committee member, former Eastchester Councilwoman Vicki (Olivia) Ford) and a Tree and Garden Guide. He used the original Peter Gisolfi Associates plans for the Preserve, the Rolin K. Link Land Survey, planting information from Bobby Mascotti, Nature Preserve landscaper and Lynne Richy’s Butterfly Garden list. Brochures are available at Eastchester, Bronxville and Tuckahoe Town Halls and libraries. They can also be downloaded from the Town web sites: eastchester.org, bxvlibrary.org, tuckahoelibrary.org and eastchesterlibrary.org.
The Nature Preserve brochure was designed to engage the general public, but is whimsical enough to appeal to a young audience, with the hope of encouraging more special spaces to be saved and enjoyed in urban areas like lower Westchester County’s Town of Eastchester. The map can be copied and distributed by the schools and libraries, helping to fulfill the Steering Committee’s goal of creating an environmental center for learning.
When asked about the design of the brochure, Joe commented, “I focused on a circular motif, inspired by the cycle of nature, the swirling movements of the butterflies, autumn’s falling leaves, birds darting and the curves of the stone dust path.” He added he would like to create coloring page–like art with additional information for the elementary schools.
Along with other students from Eastchester, Bronxville and Tuckahoe High Schools,
Joe Blau submitted his resume to become a member of the Nature Preserve Youth Advisory Board. The student’s applications were anonymous and all had to show an interest in green space, planting and conservation.
Joe had been part of tree planting projects since elementary school and was eager to be involved. Over the years, the students initiated and participated in many activities.
Butterfly research and a plant list was created by Tuckahoe High School student, Amanda Bastone ’07; Eastchester High School student, Robert Mariani ’08, created the name and theme for the Youth Board’s art show, “Through Nature’s Eyes” and students like Amanda Rodriguez ’08, Annie Massa ‘07, from Bronxville High School helped with planting and fund raising. Presently a group of students from Tuckahoe High School is working on a list of the birds that make their homes at The Nature Preserve.
Peter Gisolfi, whose firm designed the Nature Preserve property, attended one of the Youth Board meetings to discuss the design process for the Preserve and the role of a landscape architect. At the time, Joe was just beginning to think about college. The skills and interests for this field of study, as presented by Mr. Gisolfi, struck a note with Joe and now, seven years later, he is hoping to continue to make a difference by designing and developing other green islands and green infrastructure for towns and cities like Eastchester.
When communities offer opportunities to involve young people in projects like The Nature Preserve, it is always rewarding to see them grow and come home to help enrich their roots.
The Steering Committee invites you to visit and enjoy nature in the midst of Eastchester’s busy Township. Tax-deductible contributions to maintain the property can be made to: The Nature Preserve/Village of Bronxville P.O. Box 325, Bronxville, NY 10708.