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Sara D. Roosevelt Park

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, March 31, 2004

FROM GRAY TO GREEN: HESTER & CANAL STREET FIELD UNDERGOES MAJOR RENOVATION


"The creation of new parks is for those who visit and work here – but most important for those who live here," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe at the groundbreaking for Hester & Canal Street Field in Sara D. Roosevelt Park. On Thursday, March 25, students from I.S. 131 braved the raindrops to help Commissioner Benepe, Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) President Kevin M. Rampe, and Council Member Alan Gerson break ground for the new track and field.

A year and a half ago, a sinkhole measuring 8 ½ feet wide and 2 feet deep appeared at the southern end of the asphalt in Sara D. Roosevelt Park. Park workers fixed the small craters, but Hester & Canal Street Field was still not a place to play. By next fall, the field will become a state-of-the-art recreational site for the entire Lower East Side community to enjoy. With support from LMDC, Parks & Recreation is transforming the asphalt field into a lush, green carpet of synthetic turf. From soccer for teens to Tai Chi for seniors, Hester & Canal Street Field will be a true multi-purpose and multi-generational site.

In addition to replacing the park’s asphalt field with synthetic turf, Parks & Recreation will construct a three-lane synthetic track. The park entrance at Canal and Chrystie Streets will be reconstructed, and new irrigation, paths, benches, and park lighting will be added. The site’s perimeter fence and wall will also be reconstructed, and the lawn will be expanded. New trees, shrubs, perennials, and other landscaping will provide a green gateway to Lower Manhattan. The LMDC allocated nearly $3 million for the project.

"Today’s groundbreaking is a symbol of what is to come for Lower Manhattan –over a dozen new and revitalized parks and green spaces downtown, with six to debut this spring," said LMDC President Kevin M. Rampe.

Summer school students from I.S. 131 helped Landscape Architects Nancy Prince, Marisa Moriel, and Dennis Flynn design the new field, and Resident Engineer Mahmoud Gouda is overseeing the construction. Lillian Moy, Chair of the Youth Committee for Community Board 3, Jane Lerach, Principal of I.S. 131, and Alice Young, Superintendent of I.S. 131 also lent their support at the groundbreaking.

In May 2003, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Governor George E. Pataki announced the LMDC's allocation of $25 million to rejuvenate and create over a dozen new green spaces throughout Lower Manhattan. The reconstruction of Sara D. Roosevelt exemplifies Parks & Recreation’s plans to enhance each of these Lower Manhattan sites.

The 7.85-acre park was named in 1934 after Sara Delano Roosevelt, the mother of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The parkland was acquired by the City in 1929 for the purpose of widening Chrystie and Forsyth Streets and building low-cost housing, but was later set aside for "playgrounds and resting places for mothers and children." The construction of the park in 1934 was the largest park project on the Lower East Side since the acquisition of Tompkins Square Park a century earlier. Parts of Hester, Broome, Rivington, and Stanton Streets were closed to accommodate seven distinct play areas with separate playgrounds for boys and girls, as well as two wading pools, a roller skating rink, and a perimeter of benches and shade trees. At the park’s dedication on September 14, 1934, Harry H. Schlacht, founder of the periodical, East Side Home News, proclaimed the day to be "the birth of a new Lower East Side."

Written by Jocelyn Aframe

Quotation for the Day

"The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience."

Harper Lee

 

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