Just in time for spring, Jackson Heights residents have been given new park space to enjoy.
Last March, the city announced its purchase of the athletic field at the Garden School, a private learning facility, which, combined with Travers Park, located across the street from the school, will offer the community a larger recreational space.
“Jackson Heights is one of the most densely-populated and diverse neighborhoods in New York City, and one most in need of parkland for its community,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White.
As of last week, NYC Parks and the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Service had completed the $6 million acquisition of the 24,600-square-foot asphalt play yard owned by the school.
The settlement with the Garden School comes as the city follows its goal of developing original methods to increase residents’ access to neighborhood open spaces. As of 2007, 229 “Schoolyards to Playgrounds” sites have been opened to the public as part of the Bloomberg administration’s PlaNYC initiative. Yet, this is the first time the city has created an agreement with a private school.
“Working with the city was terrific,” said Arthur Gruen, president of the Board of Trustees, and Richard Marotta, headmaster of the Garden School. “We are very pleased to join with our community in establishing this permanent open space for our Garden School family and for all of our neighbors.”
The new parkland will be available for public use outside school hours, including weekend and summer months, with the ball field open for baseball and softball leagues during these times.
“Every New Yorker should have access to adequate parks and recreational opportunities,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm. “The residents of Jackson Heights deserve this.”
As part of the agreement, the Garden School is receiving a five-year lease agreement for the exclusive use of the property during the school year between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. At all other times, NYC Parks will manage the site as a public park.
NYC Parks plans to install a property line fence separating the site being acquired from the remaining Garden School property. A final design for the property will be developed and once completed, will be accessible to the public from 78th to 79th Streets.