Dedication of New Bronx Playground (NY)

Bronx, NY, 6/18/02 — Junior architects who participated in the City Spaces program of the Trust for Public Land (TPL) dedicated a new park today in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. The kid-designed Ranaqua Park, which spans the width of the block, features a basketball court, grass playing field, swings, and play equipment all available to the community as an addition to the city’s park system.

Students in kindergarten through third grade were joined by Mott Haven residents, City of New York/Parks & Recreation Bronx Commissioner Dorothy Lowendowski, and representatives of the Trust for Public Land and East Side House Settlement—the playground’s community sponsor.

The City Spaces program of the Trust for Public Land is a groundbreaking public-private partnership with city parks programs and local community organizations, dedicated to providing permanent, community-managed recreation spaces. Ranaqua Park is the fifth community playground to be created in New York City.

“All children deserve safe, accessible places to play,” said Rose Harvey, senior vice president and mid-Atlantic regional director for the Trust for Public Land. “Thanks to our generous donors, these junior architects created a public park that will provide a slice of nature, a roll on the grass and a place to socialize. In time, we hope every neighborhood will help build its own local park. Programming through East Side House Settlement will open this space to many new audiences and ensure that the site is well used and maintained.”

“The successful partnership between Parks, the Trust for Public Land, P.S. 43 and the East Side House Settlement has given the children of Mott Haven a perfect spot to score goals outside the classroom. Not only do the students of P.S. 43 have a new place to play, they have also learned how their efforts can make a difference in their neighborhood. We hope to keep working with the Trust for Public Land to continue improving and expanding our city’s green spaces,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.

Following the dedication, students from East Side House Settlement’s after school program at Public School 43 held an Olympic competition in the playground, featuring races and competitions.

Mr. John A. Sanchez, Executive Director of East Side House Settlement, stated the following in regards to Ranaqua Park, “The Mott Haven community has come a long way in recovering from its negative image. The opening of Ranaqua Park is another step in creating a neighborhood where the quality of life is such that anyone would be proud to live here.”

The park, which represents a $400,000 investment in the community, is the second City Spaces playground to be developed in the Bronx in the past two years in partnership with the New York Life Foundation. Additional funding for Ranaqua Park was provided by the Charles Hayden Foundation, the Levitt Foundation, and many other generous supporters.

“We at the New York Life Foundation are extremely gratified to see children playing, laughing and enjoying the Ranaqua Park playground,” said Peter Bushyeager, President of the New York Life Foundation. “By partnering with the City of New York/Parks & Recreation and the Trust for Public Land we are helping to improve the condition of this neighborhood’s open spaces and create safe places for the community’s children.”

Through responsive programs and services in a safe and supportive environment, East Side House empowers people of all ages in the South Bronx to improve the quality of their lives. East Side House has served the Mott Haven neighborhood since 1963 when it moved from the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The After-School Corporation Program (TASC) of East Side House serves 180 children at PS 43 providing them with academic enrichment and homework help, recreation and cultural activities.

City of New York/Parks & Recreation manages 28,617 acres of parkland-almost 14 percent of the city. As the largest urban park system in the nation, Parks primary mission is to assure that the parks, beaches, playgrounds, stadia, marinas, recreation facilities, gardens, malls, squares and public spaces of the City of New York are clean, safe and attractive for the health and enjoyment of the people.

Through the Trust for Public Land City Spaces program, six playgrounds have been created in New York City, including Little Claremont Park, in the Claremont section of the Bronx, dedicated in June 2001. Four more City Spaces sites are slated for completion in 2002-2003. Five additional City Spaces sites have been completed in Newark, NJ and another five are currently on the drawing board. The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit organization that conserves land for people to improve the quality of life in our communities and to protect our natural and historic resources for future generations.