Mayor Ras J. Baraka and the Trust for Public Land announced that Newark has received $750,000 from the National Park Service to build the final phase of Jesse Allen Park.
The money comes from the National Park Service Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program and will be used to complete the eight-acre park in Newark’s Central Ward, producing vibrant space for community gathering, recreation, and athletics for thousands of neighboring residents.
“The awarding of a $750,000 federal grant for Jesse Allen Park will enable us to complete the final phase of renovating this important part of our Central Ward community. The funds will enable us to replace the existing baseball, football, and soccer fields with a synthetic three-season turf. The new facility will in turn enable future generations of Mia Hamms, Robinson Canos, and Tahir Whiteheads to begin their glorious athletic careers in this park. I thank the Trust for Public Land for their work in partnering with us to gain us this grant,” said Mayor Baraka.
Jesse Allen Park is Newark’s second largest city-owned park, surrounded by several schools and youth facilities, including a popular Boys & Girls Club of Newark facility. The Trust for Public Land, the City of Newark, the State of New Jersey’s Green Acres Program and numerous partners have been working since 2007 to update the 1970s-era park, with several sections of the park now complete.
The second phase of renovation was completed in 2012, and the final phase of the Redevelopment Project will include the replacement of a soccer field, football field, and two baseball diamonds. The park also provides new playground amenities for all ages, including skateboarding, basketball, Fitness Zone(r) exercise stations, a water play spray area, and climate-resilient garden features.
According to The Trust for Public Land’s annual ParkScore(r) report, 91 percent of Newark residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park (the measure for parks accessibility endorsed by most park advocates), well above the national ParkScore average of 68 percent. With more than 13,600 people living within a 10-minute walk (half-mile) of the site, Jesse Allen has the potential to serve as one of the most-used and well-loved parks in the City of Newark.
“High quality parks are an essential element of healthy, sustainable and vibrant communities and they are particularly important in dense urban areas like Newark,” said Anthony Cucchi, The Trust for Public Land’s New Jersey Director. “With this investment Jesse Allen Park will provide neighboring residents with access to a much improved outdoor recreational space, generating a safe, fun, and educational environment for all.”
“We are thrilled for the next phase of Jesse Allen Park’s renovation. Children in our community need a safe outlet and an opportunity to be involved in extracurricular activities beyond the walls of our Club. I hope families throughout this city will use this park for recreational, arts, and cultural activities that will contribute to a healthier, stronger community,” said Rodney M. Fuller, Chief Executive Officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Newark.
Patrick Council, Director of Recreation Cultural Affairs & Senior Services for City of Newark, added, “Newark is a great place to live and play and we are proud of the parks and open spaces our city has to offer local residents. This grant to complete the next phase of Jesse Allen Park will add to these spaces while offering local families a place to enjoy. This project would not have been possible without the partnership among the city, the Boys & Girls Club, and The Trust for Public Land and we are thankful for this partnership.”
“This grant award is terrific news for the City of Newark and particularly the thousands of residents who already visit Jesse Allen Park for arts, recreation and relaxation,” added U.S. Senator Bob Menendez. “I was proud to support this funding request so that The Trust for Public Land can complete the revitalization of this wonderful park, with state of the art athletic, exercise and playground amenities for people of all ages. I look forward to visiting!”
“As the former Mayor of Newark, I know firsthand how important open space is to the well-being of our urban centers,” said Senator Cory A. Booker, “Projects like Jesse Allen Park not only promote healthy lifestyles, but also play a larger role in strengthening the fabric of our community. This federal investment, in collaboration with our local partners, will create new recreational and economic opportunities for generations of Newarkers to come.”
Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr., added, “I am exceedingly pleased that the U.S. Department of Interior selected the City of Newark to receive a $750,000 grant to complete redevelopment of the Jesse Allen Park. Green spaces enhance the community and provide positive outlets for children and adults alike. It also creates vital safe spaces. This funding will help ensure the City of Newark has the resources to continue providing services essential to making a profound difference in the lives of my constituents. I remain committed to doing everything I can to ensure New Jersey families have vibrant places to come together and enjoy our community.”
“We are pleased to have facilitated this application on behalf of TPL” said Rich Boornazian, Assistant Commissioner for New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Natural and Historic Resources. “We applaud TPL’s commitment to Newark and look forward to working with them, the City of Newark and the National Park Service on this worthwhile project.”
Funding for this project was made available through the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) Program, a competitive national grant program designed to help urban communities improve access to outdoor recreation. The ORLP is a competitive grant program funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) State and Local Assistance Program. The LWCF is funded by a small fraction of revenues generated by offshore oil and gas royalty payments; it is not supported with general taxpayer dollars.