Travers Park

Jackson Heights Garden School Field Renamed In Memory Of Rory Staunton

Monday, September 23, 2013
No. 80

Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White today joined Congressman Joseph Crowley, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Councilman Daniel Dromm, State Assembly Member Michael DenDekker, members of Community Board 3, the Jackson Heights Green Alliance and Jackson Heights Beautification Group, and Rory Staunton’s family and friends to officially rename this park to honor of his memory.

"Parks are the heart of community life in neighborhoods across our city, and Jackson Heights is no exception,” said Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson. “The community had a vision for adding much-needed open space to their thriving neighborhood, and in one voice advocated to make that dream a reality. No one exemplified this collaboration better than Rory Staunton. As a student who played on the field every day, he recognized the importance of ensuring that it became a space that the whole neighborhood could enjoy. From now on, every time a New Yorker comes to play on Rory Staunton Field it will be a testament to the spirit of Rory and his passion for his community."

“Many parks are named in honor of local civic leaders, who improved their communities and fought for their interests,” said Commissioner White. “Although his life was short, the positive impact of Rory Staunton’s actions was immense, and can be felt by talking to anyone who knew him. The Staunton family was one of the leading voices in the effort to acquire this park, and it is only fitting to honor Rory’s legacy by renaming the park in his memory.”

Rory Staunton (1999-2012) was a student at the Garden School, known for his civic responsibility, inspiring leadership and kind heart. The Staunton family was one of the leading voices in support of the effort to turn the Garden School’s athletic field into public parkland, increasing the amount of recreational space in Jackson Heights by more than half an acre.

Even at his young age, Rory had a deep interest in improving his community – devising and presenting a plan to eradicate the flooding problems at Sunnyside Gardens by transferring rain water to parts of the park that had no source of irrigation. He was also known for bringing the Special Olympics’ "Spread the Word to End the Word" anti-bullying campaign to his school and neighborhood, for which he was honored by the Special Olympics’ New York Chapter. In April of 2012, Staunton died of septic shock, only days after scraping his arm while playing basketball.

Staunton’s death helped to inspire the New York State Department of Health to implement protocols in all New York hospitals to better identify and treat sepsis, and the creation of the Rory Staunton Foundation to educate the public about this infection, which is usually treatable if quickly diagnosed.

"This dedication is a worthy recognition of a wonderful and vibrant boy, Rory Staunton, who was taken from us too soon,” said Senator Chuck Schumer. “I have no doubt that Rory's spirit of community and caring and fun will pervade this place and bring smiles to untold generations of fellow New Yorkers for a long, long time to come. Kudos to the Bloomberg Administration, the Staunton family, the Queens communities and the Parks Department for their work on this worthiest of projects."

“Rory was an amazing boy whose civic engagement and understanding went far beyond his years,” said Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx). “Like his parents, Rory was a leader

among his peers. This dedication is more than a fitting tribute to the Staunton family and their continued contributions to the Jackson Heights community but, more importantly, it honors the life and memory of Rory Staunton. I hope his spirit will fill this park for generations to come.”

“Rory fiercely advocated for this field to become a public park. His dedication gave his father, Ciaran, the energy to push on against all odds to make that vision a reality,” said New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). “It is fitting to name this field after a young man who was so dedicated to his classmates and community. In the coming months, we will be working with the community to improve this field so it can be an even better asset to our neighborhood.”

“The Jackson Heights Green Alliance is delighted that the Garden School field will be named after Rory Staunton,” said the group’s president, Dudley Stewart. “Rory and his family were instrumental in making sure that the space became parkland, and we are extremely grateful towards them. Rory's amazing life was ended far too soon, having this field named after him will ensure he will never be forgotten by us and future generations who will enjoy Jackson Heights's newest park space.”

After a preliminary agreement was reached in 2012, this field was officially acquired by the City in the beginning of this year. Under an agreement with the Garden School, which formerly owned this property, the school will continue to use the field during school hours for five years. The acquisition was funded with $4 million from Council Member Dromm, $1 million from Borough President Marshall, and $1 million from the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City.

Rory Staunton Field will be included in a future renovation, alongside the adjacent Travers Park, with scopes of work to be determined by community listening sessions. The improvements to Travers Park will be funded with $2 million allocated by Council Member Dromm and $600,000 allocated by Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, with improvements to Rory Staunton Field funded by an additional $1.1 million allocated by Council Member Dromm.

Directions to Travers Park

  • Travers Park, August 19, 2010
  • Travers Park, August 19, 2010
  • Travers Park, August 19, 2010

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