Maria Hernandez Park
The Daily Plant : Monday, June 16, 2003
A PARK WORTHY OF ITS NAME
Maria Hernandez Park is a beautiful neighborhood park—with tall trees and gorgeous landscaping, a perimeter path with markers for running laps, handball courts, and a beautiful open gathering space at its center. But if you ask local residents, they will explain that this park has blossomed in the past year. On Thursday, music was rising out of the park as young musicians from P.S. 145 performed before a crowd of local officials and community members all celebrating the completion of the first phase of reconstruction at the park. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Council Member Diana Reyna, Community Board 4 Chair Anna Gonzalez, and Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe also welcomed fourth-graders from P.S. 123 to the park. Using $1.9 million in funds allocated by the City Council, the park symbolizes the continued development and beautification of the Bushwick neighborhood.
The community park honors the life of local activist Maria Hernandez who, along with her husband Carlos, dedicated her time and energy to rid her neighborhood of drugs. "Maria Hernandez helped to rid this neighborhood of drugs and crime by organizing positive activities—block parties, athletic activities, and cultural events," said Commissioner Benepe. "With these new renovations, this neighborhood will be able to continue the tradition Maria began. This is like a great village square, and this is as beautiful a neighborhood as you could imagine."
The park now features ornamental gates, a plaza with decorative paving, and public performance space for community activities. Parks & Recreation also added game tables, benches, and has improved the existing basketball courts. In years past, rainstorms would cause major flooding in the park, but now the park’s drainage and water supply systems have been completely overhauled. The celebration also marked the start of the second phase of work at the park, which entails the renovation of the children’s play area and the installation of all new play equipment.
While addressing the crowd, Borough President Markowitz was all smiles. "As we look at the children, they are the best of Brooklyn," said Borough President Markowitz. "Brooklyn begins in Bushwick, and Council Member Reyna is the best that Brooklyn can produce." He also thanked Parks & Recreation for creating such a beautiful park in the neighborhood.
"What I see here today is remarkable," said Council Member Reyna. Speaking to the children, she told them how important it was to take responsibility for their park and to become involved in community projects. Throughout the park’s design process, Reyna worked with the Parks & Recreation Capital team, providing both suggestions from the community and her own thoughts on how to best honor Ms. Hernandez. At the park’s center is a parrot mosaic which Council Member Reyna and the designers created to ensure art and beauty always remain at the park’s core.
For nearly a century, the park was known as Bushwick Park. Maria Hernandez envisioned a Bushwick Park that would bring the community together and steer the entire neighborhood away from drugs and violence. On the morning of August 8, 1989, Maria Hernandez was killed by gun shots fired through the window of her Starr Street home. Pain for her death was felt beyond the Brooklyn community. Later that year, the City Council renamed the park for her. Now 14 years later, the performances of the children and the prospects of future cultural programming at the park’s stage leave little doubt that Maria Hernadez’s dream has been fulfilled.
Written by Eric Adolfsen
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"Familiarity breeds contempt—and children."
Directions to Maria Hernandez Park
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- Parks & Recreation And The Walt Disney Company Launch Playground Pilot Program
- A Park Worthy Of Its Namesake