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Some News From Around…

  • This spring, ground will be broken on a $3.25 million renovation of Military Park in downtown Newark. (New York Times)
  • A federally funded survey has identified the top 10 cities for urban forests. (USA Today)
  • San Bernardino’s economic decline is having a negative effect on the city’s urban parks, but residents are looking for ways to save them. (San Bernardino Sun)
  • City Slicker Farms breaks ground on a new urban park and farm in Oakland. (East Bay Express)
  • Locals push back against a proposal to build a shopping center in one of Sydney’s most important urban parks.  (Sydney Morning Herald)

A New Park for New-ark

Newark kids participating in the design of Nat Turner Park.

There are some great things going on with parks and neighborhood renewal in Newark, New Jersey, the state’s largest city just a stone’s throw from New York City and struggling to recover after years of decline. Today, the city opened a new park, thirty years after the city purchased the land. The Newark Star Ledger:

The city purchased a multi-acre plot across from the Felix Fuld Housing Complex in the mid 1970s. It sat unused for decades. Bernard Chase III, 40, said he played pick-up football games in the vacant lot as a kid.

Chase, a member of the group Friends of Nat Turner Park and a Pop Warner football coach, will now be able to watch his team play on a brand new synthetic turf field.

That field and other features of the nine-acre facility were opened today in a ribbon-cutting ceremony that attracted, among others, Mayor Cory Booker, former New York Giant running back Tiki Barber, and an official from the White House.

Aside from the turf field, the park includes a 400-meter regulation track, picnic areas, and a playground. Nat Turner Park is part of a public-private partnership between the city and The Trust for Public Land. Mayor Booker and the city dedicated $3 million to the park’s construction, New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection provided about $5 million and the rest of the $9 million project came from private donations. More information can be found in TPL’s press release.

Newark: Site of Tragic Shooting Turned to New Playground

Mt. Vernon Playground (click image for more pictures)

Mt. Vernon Playground (click image for more pictures)

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.

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