New Playground Dedicated in Newark (NJ)

Newark, NJ, 6/26/2003 — Seven- to twelve-year-old junior architects celebrated the completion of their first design project today—a new park in Newark’s Central Ward (adjacent to McKinley Elementary School). The two-acre park includes a track, basketball court, grass playing field, swings and play equipment that is available to students and the community.

McKinley Elementary School Playground is the sixth community park created through the nonprofit Trust for Public Land’s Newark City Spaces Program, a groundbreaking public-private partnership dedicated to providing permanent, community-managed recreation spaces throughout the City of Newark. The playground was created in partnership with Newark Public Schools and was made possible by leading support from The Prudential Foundation, with additional major support from the Nicholson Foundation and the Victoria Foundation.

The playground was developed through a participatory design process that began in May 2002 when students took on tasks ranging from surveying the site and interviewing community stakeholders, to working with professional architects.

“During the design process, students have had fun while learning new skills and applying existing knowledge in math, reading, observation and problem-solving,” said Carolyn Granato, principal of McKinley Elementary School. “The result is not only a better-looking site, but a new generation of individuals who know how to work together toward a common goal that also enhances their community.”

McKinley Playground groundbreaking
ceremony, December, 2002.
Photo by: Manuel Lebr?n
“With the commitment of McKinley Elementary School and the community, and the support of city agencies and private foundations, this project provides an unmatched neighborhood resource that meets the need for safe places for children and families to gather and play,” said Rose Harvey, senior vice president of the Trust for Public Land.

“In place of cracked cement, there is now a beautiful multicolored track, a basketball court, and play equipment,” said Marion Bolden, superintendent of the Newark Public Schools. “For aspiring young architects, landscape designers, and land stewards, the opportunity to make a difference extends far beyond the playgrounds they helped create.”

The playground represents an investment of approximately $500,000 in the community. Launched by the Trust for Public Land in 1995, Newark City Spaces creates new community playgrounds in neighborhoods under-served by parks and recreation areas. Since the program’s inception, more than $3 million has been invested at seven playgrounds throughout Newark. Major future investments will be made in Newark by the Trust for Public Land, with plans to rehabilitate some larger park sites next, including Mildred Helms Park in the South Ward and Hayes Park West in the Central Ward.

The Prudential Foundation has been a partner since the inception of the Newark City Spaces program in 1995. “Prudential is proud to participate in a partnership that provides community-managed recreation spaces throughout the City of Newark,” said Gabriella Morris, president of The Prudential Foundation. “This project is a wonderful opportunity for aspiring young people to build their skills and knowledge, while creating a lasting contribution to the community where they live and go to school.”

Founded in 1977, The Prudential Foundation is the nonprofit grant-making organization of Prudential Financial, Inc. It is part of Prudential’s Community Resources Division, a strategic combination of three units: the Foundation, which strives to build children and families’ self sufficiency; the Social Investment Program, which originates and manages socially beneficial investments; and Local Initiatives, which coordinates employee volunteerism and fosters community outreach.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Through the City Spaces program, 13 new community parks have been created in Newark and New York City and another 10 are in the works.