This week, the new and improved Almer G. Russell Pavilion in Conference House Park on Staten Island was officially unveiled. The original Conference House Pavilion was built in 1935 to honor Almer G. Russell, a community resident killed in battle during World War I. The pavilion was last remodeled in 2002 and eventually deteriorated due to damage from several storms. Following infrastructural devastation caused by Hurricane Irene in 2011, it was closed to the public. Located at the southernmost point of New York State, Conference House Park houses four historic buildings that trace the history of the borough over the course of three centuries.
Located in the historic Conference House Park, the storm-battered pavilion was completely reconstructed into a new 3,000 square foot, water and wind-resistant structure. The $6.6 million project constructed a new open-air pavilion utilizing existing piles of the original structure. The pavilion’s revamp features landscape enhancements and green infrastructure to better manage stormwater runoff. Additionally, a pedestrian path was constructed to connect the pavilion to nearby Hylan Boulevard.
“Thanks to the efforts of Commissioner Silver, the Conference House Park Pavilion is just one more reason to enjoy the natural assets we have as the Borough of Parks,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo. “It’s an excuse to not only get outside, but engage in a landscape surrounded by so much culture and history. I encourage all Staten Islanders to take advantage of the parks this summer, and enjoy the waterfront views from the southernmost part of New York State.”
“Conference House Park is a key Staten Island destination that has served Tottenville and surrounding communities for decades. We’re thrilled to restore this storied pavilion for public use and enjoyment,” saidCommissioner Silver. “As Commissioner I’ve prioritized working to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to quality parks, and it’s outstanding to see these underused spaces transformed into community assets. Thanks to a tremendous investment from our partners across the City, Staten Islanders can enjoy the breathtaking views of Raritan Bay and the New Jersey Shoreline from this revitalized open-air structure.”
“It has taken a long and incredible journey to get us to today. So many community members and leaders have pitched in to bring this project to reality and I’m grateful for all of their contributions,” said Council Member Joseph Borelli. “I’m very happy with how it turned out and I know the community is going to enjoy the Almer G. Russell Pavilion at Conference House Park for years to come.”
In attendance for the unveiling, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, Council Member Joseph Borelli, former Council Member Vincent Ignizio, Conference House Park Conservancy President Jim Pistilli, Community Board 3 Parks Committee Chair Al Klingele, members of the Conference House Association, Tottenville Historical Society, and community members. The project is one of more than 800 completed under Commissioner Silver’s leadership, advancing the City’s mission to build a more equitable 21st century park system.
Funding for this project was provided by a $5.6 million allocation from Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, $850,000 from New York City Council Member Borelli and former Council Member Vincent Ignizio , and $150,000 from Staten Island Borough President Oddo and former Borough President James P. Molinaro.
On June 22, 2021, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate the Aakawaxung Munahanung (Island Protected from the Wind) Archeological Site also known as the Conference House Park Archaeological Site.