FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Saturday, November 13, 2021
NYC PARKS AND NYPD CELEBRATE RENOVATED BASKETBALL COURTS AND NEW SOCCER PITCH AT COLONEL CHARLES YOUNG PLAYGROUND IN HARLEM
NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea joined Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit Roberto Perez, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Congressman Adriano Espaillat, Assembly Member Al Taylor, NYCFC Head of Community Development Prospero Herrera, Executive Board Member of Black Women’s Player Collective Jasmyne Spencer, Community Board 10 Parks Committee Chair Karen Horry, and community members on Friday to celebrate completed and upcoming improvements to Colonel Charles Young Playground in Harlem. The event included sports activities for kids.
“Colonel Charles Young Playground is a Harlem anchor, and we are proud to work with the NYPD and our partners to activate this neighborhood park. These new improvements provide outstanding recreational opportunities for kids in the community,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Fialkoff. “The park is on its way to getting the renovation it deserves–the basketball court upgrades and new soccer pitch are building momentum as we look forward to the baseball field transformation, expanded sports opportunities, and upgraded comfort station.”
“From my first day as police commissioner, we have worked to build trust and provide opportunities for young people across New York City. One of the key cornerstones of that ongoing work has been investing NYPD assets seized in major criminal investigations into transforming public spaces across New York City for our most precious commodity: Our kids. Over the past year, we have transformed 15 broken basketball courts in public housing and turned these open spaces into vibrant areas where kids can play and learn. This announcement is one more reflection of this effort, of our investment – in time, resources, and energy – into our kids. I want to thank all of our partners involved in this important project for their collaboration in this shared vision of creating places and opportunities for our youngest New Yorkers,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.
The playground now features refurbished basketball courts and a new soccer pitch. The renovations were partially funded by a partnership with the NYPD and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to use asset forfeiture funding to make community improvements. Projects are planned to renovate the ballfields and comfort station.
Phase One: Completed Work
The main basketball court has been reconstructed with new asphalt, fencing, backboards, and a scoreboard. New bleachers will also be arriving shortly. The $500,000 renovation was funded by the NYPD in partnership with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and federal law enforcement partners and with support from the New York City Police Foundation, First Responders Children's Foundation and Mandela Foundation. Parks made repairs and added new sports coating to the playground’s three other basketball courts, with new backboards also funded by the NYPD.
A fifth court has been converted into a brand new mini-soccer pitch, thanks to $60,000 in funding from the New York City Soccer Initiative partners – the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, the New York City Football Club (NYCFC), the U.S. Soccer Foundation, adidas and Etihad Airways. The mini-pitch is part of a larger project to build and maintain 50 total soccer pitches across the five boroughs in just five years, which was completed this year. This mini-pitch was created in partnership with and designed by Black Players for Change (BPC) and Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC).
“Restoring and investing in the Colonel Charles Young Playground in Harlem will make a resounding and lasting impact for thousands of New Yorkers, in particular traditionally underserved communities and communities of color,” said Daniele Baierlein and Jorge Luis Paniagua Valle, Co-Executive Directors of the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. “We couldn’t be happier that the NYC Soccer Initiative was able to play a part in the park's revitalization and we want to thank all of our partners who helped make it happen.”
“At adidas, we believe that everyone should have a safe place for sports in their communities, which is why we are incredibly proud of our work with both the New York City Soccer Initiative and the Black Women’s Player Collective at Colonel Charles Young Playground,” said Skate Noftsinger, Director of Soccer Sports Marketing at adidas. “We are committed to positively impacting the Black communities we serve and creating an equal starting line for all young boys and girls of color.”
“At the U.S. Soccer Foundation, we work toward ensuring that every child—no matter their race, gender, background—has access to safe places to play and coaches who can serve as mentors in their lives,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “That’s why we are thrilled to bring this new mini-pitch to Colonel Charles Young Playground as part of the larger revitalization efforts in the park with our New York City Soccer Initiative partners, Black Players for Change, and Black Women’s Player Collective.”
“We are enormously proud to collaborate with our fellow allies at the BPC and BWPC on this specific mini-pitch in Harlem, launched on Juneteenth as part of our NYCSI 50-pitch project. We will continue to work with partners that are willing to take action and use soccer to help level the playing field across the five boroughs. As the soccer Club of NYC, this is our role and responsibility to harness the power of soccer as a force for good – and use it to raise awareness for important issues including racial inequalities. Our Captain Sean Johnson has been a strong voice and leader within our Club and the BPC. Together, we will continue working to increase access to soccer and safe spaces for young people across this great City,” said Brad Sims, CEO of NYCFC.
Phase Two: Upcoming Projects
The playground’s ballfield area will be transformed into multi-sport synthetic turf fields. The $6.1 million project was funded with $5 million from the NYPD in partnership with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and federal law enforcement partners, $500,000 from the PitCCh In Foundation, $500,000 from the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation, and $150,000 from the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. Design is expected to begin soon, with the start of construction anticipated for 2022.
“This is a great opportunity to support an important project in our own backyard,” said Jean Lee Batrus, Executive Director, MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation. “Our Foundation takes every chance to keep kids safe and healthy by helping to build fun and sustainable places to play. This is a fabulous collaboration with NYC Parks and our extended charitable baseball community with PitCCh In Foundation and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. We look forward to future opportunities to partner on initiatives aimed at young people in neighborhoods throughout New York City’s five boroughs.”
“Doing our part to lift up the communities we serve is a priority for everyone at the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. Our National Youth Development Park Initiative is making a meaningful and sustainable impact on young people across our Country and we are proud to support this latest project at Col. Charles Young Playground in New York City. Kids need safe places to play and learn so they can be kids, and this field, along with all the other amazing aspects of Col. Young Playground, accomplishes exactly that,” said Chuck Brady, Sr. Vice President, Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation.
A separate project is being planned to renovate the comfort station. The project is funded with $1 million from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, $750,000 from Mayor de Blasio, and $750,000 from City Council Member Bill Perkins.
“I'm so happy to celebrate the progress of the improvements being made to the Col. Young Playground,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “It is significant that we mark this moment as we continue to honor our nation's veterans. We are grateful for the completion of the main basketball court and the upcoming arrival of the new bleachers, and we are looking forward to the renovations for the comfort station. Congratulations to the supporters of Col. Young Playground and to the people in this community.”
New programming will also take place at the playground. The NYPD’s signature Saturday Night Lights program will provide weekly sports and fitness training, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation and Mayor’s Fund will provide programming to young New Yorkers through after-school soccer and mentoring programs, such as soccer clinics.
Colonel Charles Young Playground opened to the public in September of 1944. Built to accommodate a wide range of recreational interests, the playground features multiple basketball courts, handball courts, ballfields, a spray shower, play equipment, and swings. Its namesake, Colonel Charles Young (1864-1922), was a pioneering African American army officer, cartographer, teacher, and diplomat. The playground borders The 369th Regiment Armory, home to the “Harlem Hellfighters,” an African American regiment that saw more combat than any other unit during World War I and was one of the most decorated.