Bridgeport Breaks Ground On East End Park And Playground Revitalization

Community and student designers shaped plans for Johnson Oak Park and Jettie S. Tisdale School play space

June 15, 2018
Bridgeport

The City of Bridgeport and The Trust for Public Land today announced the groundbreaking for the complete restoration of Johnson Oak Park and the adjacent grounds of Jettie S. Tisdale School in Bridgeport’s East End neighborhood. The new design for the long-underutilized park space is based on a lengthy planning process, coordinated by The Trust for Public Land, that welcomed design ideas from East End neighbors and from a team of Tisdale student playground designers.

More than 3,500 people live within a 10-minute walk of Johnson Oak Park, and 700 students use the park and playground each day. The new gathering and play spaces are scheduled to open this fall. In addition to overseeing planning, The Trust for Public Land raised funds from numerous public and private sources. The City of Bridgeport will oversee construction.

“We believe that everyone should have a quality park within a 10-minute walk of home,” said The Trust for Public Land’s Connecticut State Director Walker Holmes. “We’re so pleased to be working with the City, the East End community, and these wonderful students to give them the park they so urgently deserve.”

“Parks are essential and often can spur community investment and economic improvement,” said Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim. “These revitalized parks promise to improve the quality of life for everyone living in the East End neighborhood.”

Community meetings to plan for the refurbished park space began in 2014, with students contributing their ideas through a playground-design curriculum at school. Student designers wanted to be sure the play spaces would be accessible to the 30 percent of the school’s students who have special needs. Teachers requested a walking track and shady spots near the play area. Neighbors asked for a safe, welcoming space where they could gather for family parties and events or just relax outdoors.

Park features include a field, basketball court, running track, performance stage, splash pad, gathering area with a pavilion, tables, and grills, and green-infrastructure elements that will capture stormwater and improve neighborhood air quality.

“These new play spaces will make a huge difference to the health and wellbeing of our students,” said Dr. Charmaine Worthy, Principal at Jettie S. Tisdale School. “The space was designed for students by students—and they can't wait for the park and playground to open. Our special needs students will enjoy access to the outdoor classroom which will include a stream and a garden. As a Turnaround Arts School, we will have an outdoor stage to have performances. Our basketball and track teams will have a place to practice.”

“A great neighborhood needs a great park, and soon Johnson Oak Park will be just that for the East End,” said Keith Williams, President of the East End Neighborhood Revitalization Zone, which helped plan the park restoration. “Everyone here is looking forward to the contributions that this new park will make to our sense of community.”

Public funding for the restoration came from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Bridgeport, the Open Space and Community Gardens grant program of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and a U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant. Private funding came from the Prudential Foundation, Avangrid Foundation, and numerous other foundations and private donors.

About The Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live near a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.