An excellent example of renewing cities through parks and playgrounds and private-public collaboration to do so was highlighted in Newark, N.J. last week, where The Trust for Public Land dedicated the Mount Vernon School Playground, completing the transformation of a site where the tragic shooting of four young people occurred just over a year ago.
From a cracked asphalt lot to a vibrant community playground, TPL created a safe haven for the nearly 900 students enrolled in Mount Vernon School as well as the 2,200 children who live within walking distance of the new park. Along with a coalition of community, civic, philanthropic, and nonprofit partners, TPL dedicated $1.3 million and countless hours of work to creating the park, which now features a multi-use field, track, playground equipment, a performance space, basketball courts, and a learning garden.
An in-depth participatory design process was used to help establish community investment, and TPL worked with the Greater Newark Conservancy and landscape architects to meet with students and local residents to create the design. “The transformation of this park is an incredible benefit for our students,” said Dr. Clifford B. Janey, superintendent of Newark’s schools.