Schoolyard Shooting Site Being Transformed into Playground (NJ)

NEWARK, NJ, 8/1/2008: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is on track to finish by the beginning of September construction of a new community playground at Mount Vernon School, site of last summer’s tragic shooting of four young people.

“Nothing can erase what happened that terrible night, but it is our hope that by reclaiming this space for the community, the scars of the tragedy can begin to heal,” said TPL Senior Vice President Rose Harvey.

Working with a coalition of community, civic, philanthropic, and nonprofit partners, TPL pledged to revive the Mount Vernon School playground, committing $1.3 million and many hours to designing a park that will serve as a safe haven for community members and school children. Construction began in late May and work is on track to be completed when school starts September 8. The group is planning a dedication event for September.

The work is part of The Trust for Public Land’s efforts to raise $30 million in public and private dollars to invest in Newark’s parks and playgrounds. Other projects include Nat Turner Park, the largest city-owned park, where ground was broken in June; Jesse Allen Park; two community playgrounds; and Minish Park on the Passaic River.

At Mount Vernon, TPL facilitated a participatory design process that included students, school staff, and community representatives. The design team’s plan includes a turf field, multi-purpose and basketball courts, two sets of play equipment, seating areas, trees, and a teaching garden coordinated by the Greater Newark Conservancy. The landscape architect is Hatch Mott MacDonald.

Lead private funding has been donated by The Kresge Foundation, Charles Hayden Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, The Prudential Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Schumann Fund for New Jersey, Victoria Foundation. PlayCore/GameTime and Marturano Recreation also donated the play equipment.

Through Parks for People-Newark, TPL is working to expand and enhance Newark’s park system, providing a safe park within walking distance of every Newark resident. The Trust for Public Land 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.