NYC Parks Celebrates $5.6 Million Investment in Two Harlem Parks

 

 

 

Ribbon Cutting . Photo credit: NYC Parks/Daniel Avila ~ Thomas Jefferson Park.

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, yesterday joined elected officials and community members to officially cut the ribbon on improvements to playgrounds at Morningside Park and Thomas Jefferson Park in Harlem. The projects are two of more than 800 completed under Commissioner Silver’s leadership, advancing the City’s mission to build a more equitable 21st century park system.

Ribbon Cutting. Photo credit: NYC Parks/Daniel Avila ~ Thomas Jefferson Park

“We are thrilled to unveil these completely revamped spaces at Morningside Park and Thomas Jefferson Park,” said Commissioner Silver. “As Commissioner I’ve prioritized working to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to quality parks, and it’s outstanding to see these underused spaces transformed into community assets. Thanks to funding from Borough President Brewer, Council Members Levine, Ayala, and Perkins, and former Council Members Dickens and Mark-Viverito, these redesigned areas now integrate with the surrounding landscape while offering new amenities for Harlem residents to enjoy.”

Morningside Park.

The project reconstructed the park’s middle playground and basketball courts at W. 118th St., providing a greener play space with features for all ages and abilities. The redesigned area now offers new play equipment and swings, an adult fitness area, a full-size intermediate court with new bleachers and two other courts, new pavements, game tables, seating, lighting and plantings. The $3.3 million project was funded by Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Mark Levine, Council Member Bill Perkins, and former Council Member (now Assembly Member) Inez Dickens. 

Ribbon Cutting Morningside Park. Photo credit: NYC Parks/Daniel Avila

“From the beginning of this process, the reconstruction of Morningside Park’s Middle Playground has been a community-grown vision for how this cherished public resource could best serve New Yorkers of all ages and abilities,” said City Council Member Mark Levine. “Over the course of the pandemic, our city has gone through a renaissance of our understanding of the value and necessity of our public parks. The completion of this really impressive reconstruction of the Middle Playground could not come at a better time to allow so many of our neighbors in Harlem and Morningside Heights and beyond to enjoy and utilize this inclusive park. I could not be more proud of the work the community has put into this project and that I was able to contribute in a small way to its completion.”

“A new season is the perfect time to cut the ribbon on the ‘Middle Playground’ at Morningside Park,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I’m proud to have allocated funding towards this project that offers recreational opportunities and features for adults and children to enjoy, including newly-reconstructed basketball courts and improved lighting. I encourage the families of Harlem and Morningside Heights to take advantage of the new playground and courts.”

Ribbon Cutting Morningside Park. Photo credit: NYC Parks/Daniel Avila

“The middle playground in Morningside Park has long been a loved community amenity with Fathers Day basketball tournaments held on its courts for over 35 years. With this renovation NYC Parks has achieved a decades long goal of our 2001 Morningside Park Master Plan to reintegrate the basketball courts into the fabric of the park while adding new amenities such as adult fitness equipment, game tables, ping pong, new swings, climbing structures and benches all in response to community input. We are ever so grateful to all who contributed to its success and to our elected officials for allocating the funds for this new jewel in our Scenic Landmark park,” said Brad Taylor, President, Friends of Morningside Park.

“Morningside Park is an invaluable resource for the community, providing an outlet for improving mental and physical health. The reconstructed playground and basketball courts elevate the facilities for everyone’s enjoyment at a time when green spaces are more important than ever,” said Julia Boland, President, The Morningside Park Conservancy.

Ribbon Cutting Morningside Park. Photo credit: NYC Parks/Daniel Avila

A narrow strip that stretches 13 blocks, Morningside Park was built on a steep incline, with multiple playgrounds nestled at the bottom of its cliff-like hillside and places to pause along its heights to take in unique views. One of the four Historic Harlem Parks, the park blends dramatic landscaping with the pleasures of a community park.

The project renovated the playground to provide more diverse and accessible play features. The playground now offers new play equipment, swings, safety surfacing, an updated BBQ area and a reconstructed spray shower, as well as new benches, pavements, fencing and planted areas. The $2.3 million project was funded by Council Member Diana Ayala and former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. 

Commissioner Silver and City Council Member, Diana Ayala having some fun at the Thomas Jefferson Park Ribbon Cutting. Photo credit: NYC Parks/Daniel Avila

Thomas Jefferson Park.

The project renovated the playground to provide more diverse and accessible play features. The playground now offers new play equipment, swings, safety surfacing, an updated BBQ area and a reconstructed spray shower, as well as new benches, pavements, fencing and planted areas. The $2.3 million project was funded by Council Member Diana Ayala and former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. 

“I am excited that we are able to celebrate the newly renovated Thomas Jefferson Park playground and look forward to seeing our neighborhood children enjoy it because it was a labor of love completed on their behalf,” said City Council Member Diana Ayala. “I am equally delighted to share this moment and thank my predecessor, former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.  Through our combined efforts, we were able to allocate $2.39 million to fund these needed improvements. I also want to thank NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver and Manhattan Borough Commissioner William Castro for their stewardship.”

Ribbon Cutting Morningside Park. Photo credit: NYC Parks/Daniel Avila

“I’m glad that the Thomas Jefferson Park playground has received the much-needed upgrade it deserves,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “This renovation ensures more accessible features for families in East Harlem, from new play equipment and safety surfaces to a reconstructed spray shower and an improved BBQ area, giving this community treasure a new look with more ways to play and enjoy the outdoors.”

Thomas Jefferson Park was planned and named by the Board of Aldermen in 1894, though the land for it was not purchased until 1897. The park opened on October 7, 1905 to provide organized play to the children of “Little Italy,” as the crowded tenement district in East Harlem was then known. The playground was last reconstructed in 1994.

Thomas Jefferson Park is located along First Avenue between 111th and 114th Streets in East Harlem. Check out its Skate Board Park, installed in 2017. Follow Friends of Thomas Jefferson Park.

Morningside Park is located from Central Park North (110th Street) and 123rd Street, between Morningside Avenue and Morningside Drive in Harlem. Stay tuned for the new outdoor art installation, Zaq Landsberg: Reclining Liberty, coming to Morningside Park by May 1, 2021. Check out the Morningside Park Green Market. Follow Friends of Morningside Park.

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