Trust for Public Land, City of Newark Celebrate Opening of Jesse Allen Park
Trust for Public Land and the City of Newark, in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Newark and Louise A. Spencer Elementary School, celebrate the opening of the newly renovated Jesse Allen Park. This third and final phase of construction brings new turf sports fields to the park.
“High quality parks are essential for fostering a healthy community and the renovations to Jesse Allen Park will bring much needed recreation and gathering space for young and old,” said Scott Dvorak, AVP, New Jersey State Director for Trust for Public Land. “After years of community engagement and planning, we’re thrilled to bring the needs and desires of Newark’s residents to life.”
Jesse Allen Park, Newark’s second-largest city-owned park, serves more than 18,000 people who live within a half-mile radius, including students attending the adjacent Louise A. Spencer Elementary School. Earlier renovations to the southern section of the park, which is adjacent to the Boys & Girls Club of Newark, were completed in August 2009 and included a walking path, outdoor exercise equipment, state of-the-art facilities for basketball, volleyball, tennis, and, for the first time in a Newark park, skateboarding.
In fall of 2012, the second phase of renovations that includes new lawns and landscaping, a playground and water play spray area, basketball courts, sports lighting, and a Fitness Zone® area was completed. The New York Jets, MetLife, and The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey partnered to provide funding for the outdoor gym. Jets players and children from the Boys & Girls Club of Newark worked side-by-side to complete the Fitness Zone.
“Jesse Allen Park has sat neatly between Avon Avenue and Muhammad Ali, just above the last remaining Clubhouse of Boys & Girls Club of Newark,” said Ameer Washington, Chief Executive Officer Boys & Girls Club. “It is an important fixture in this community, serving as wonderful outdoor space for families and healthy recreational space for community members. We are thrilled about the new renovation and the benefits it will provide to residents and other community members. Count Boys & Girls Club of Newark in as a steward of the park to uplift each member of the Central Ward.”
“The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey has been pleased to partner with Trust for Public Land to help renovate Jesse Allen Park,” said Michael Schmidt, Executive Director and CEO of The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey. “We have long supported access to public, open, green spaces that have encouraged exercise and quality of life enhancements that positively impact on the physical and mental health of the residents of the community.”
“The Jets saw the need for the community at Jesse Allen Park in Newark and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make improvements to a vitally important part of the community,” said Jesse Linder, Vice President for Community Relations. “TPL has the history and the expertise with projects like the one at Jesse Allen Park and we are excited for the residents of Newark to finally have outdoor space that meets the needs of the community.”
The amenities featured in the new Jesse Allen Park were designed over a decade-long process in collaboration with local residents and community groups including The Friends of Jesse Allen Park, Newark Public Schools, the Boys & Girls Club, and the Springfield/Belmont Super Neighborhood Council.
“We need spaces to be and the park at Jesse Allen is a hub for our youth,” said Mia X., a resident of Grace West Housing and member of Friends of Jesse Allen Park group. “The sound of their laughter from playing on the swings and sliding down the slide adds to the value of our community.”
The park also features a large stormwater store-and-release system designed to capture rain falling on playing fields. Rainwater filters into the storage tanks and is released over time into the city’s combined stormwater and waste sewer system, helping the local Sewage Commission prevent overflows of untreated water.
Funding for the stormwater system was provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) through a grant to the Trust for Public Land, and the project supports the improvement of water quality in Newark Bay through crucial stormwater retention infrastructure. The funds from NFWF stemmed from a Community Service Payment involving a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. The case was prosecuted out of the District of New Jersey by Assistant United States Attorneys Kathleen P. O’Leary and Kelly Graves.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres Program has been a lead funding partner for the project, contributing over $2.4M for its construction.
“Parks and recreational facilities are the heart and soul of healthy and vibrant communities,” Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette said. “We are proud to partner with Newark and the Trust for Public Land in the development of Jesse Allen Park to provide area residents with first-class recreational amenities. The final phase of the project will complete the transformation of this park into a community showcase that will provide opportunities for fun, recreation and physical development for many years. I congratulate the city and TPL for this tremendous accomplishment.”
In 2017, TPL also received $750,000 in federal funding to complete the final phase of construction. The grant from the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program (ORLP) is part of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) – State and Local Assistance Program – that supports outdoor recreation projects to create and improve local parks in underserved areas.
According to this year’s ParkScore results, 94% of Newark residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park. The national comparison of park systems across the 100 most populated cities in the United States ranks Newark ranks above average in equitable distribution of park space, with 96% of people of color living with in a 10-minute walk of a park.
About Trust for Public Land
Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 3 million acres of public land, created more than 5,000 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $84 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected more than 9 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.