Dred Scott Bird Sanctuary

Bronx, New York

Client: New York City Department of Parks and Recreation

Denisha Williams, Project Manager for Abel Bainnson Butz, LLP, 2011


The Dred Scott Bird Sanctuary is a half-acre parcel of parkland that had been a vacant, debris-filled lot before it was cleaned up and planted as a wooded community garden by hard-working, dedicated neighbors starting in the 1990s. After becoming New York City Parks property and gaining a Council Member funding allocation, the community garden received a complete redesign to add facilities for community programs. The bird sanctuary/community garden now offers a shade shelter and story circle, pathways, and seating in a naturalistic setting of predominantly native plantings. A small number of raised planting beds also offer sunny areas where community gardeners can plant herbs.


The understated new park is designed to have a “light footprint” within the city, by handling all stormwater on-site, minimizing impervious surface area, and capturing rainfall from the roof of the shade structure to be used for hand irrigation. The planting plan for the site integrates a wide variety of existing trees that had been planted by community gardeners over the years. Over a dozen smaller trees were transplanted to locate them more strategically within the overall plan. In addition, new trees, shrubs, and perennials were added to the garden. All newly-added plant material consists of native vegetation, with the plant palette chosen for high habitat value for birds, providing food and shelter for year-round and migratory bird species.