White Park Reopens After $3 Million Reconstruction In East Harlem

white rock parkAs city officials announced the reopening of East Harlem’s White Park on Thursday one sound echoed constantly in the background — the joyful screams and shrieks of a full playground.

After a total reconstruction project that cost an estimated $3.3 million, officials and community leaders gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new and improved White Park on East 106th Street near Lexington Avenue.

“Today, after years of making many turns, White Park brings new life to this community,” said Mitchell Silver, the city parks commissioner.

As Community Board 11 Chair Diane Collier took the mic she began her speech by not talking at all. Instead, she told everyone to take in the noise around them. As officials, community leaders and neighborhood residents began to listen and observe kids running on the playground structures or pushing each other on the swing set many were driven to smile.

The park will foster an inclusive environment said Comptroller Scott Stringer, who mentioned he would bring his children to the park. It’s not just for kids to run around in, but also for seniors to relax and be able to enjoy being outside. Stringer said that he will take full advantage of the benches and shade as his 4-year-old son runs around in the park.

“This is what happens when we all come to the table, we put difference aside and we recognize that we are one El Barrio, we are one community,” Stringer said.

It was in 2010 when Stringer was Manhattan borough president that the process of renovating White Park began. During his time in that office Stringer allocated $750,000 to the project. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was also at the ceremony. The council allocated $1.2 million for the project, with the rest coming from the mayor’s office.

“We all knew the condition that White Park was in,” Mark-Viverito said. “We were concerned that we were not getting the level of respect as a community, that we should have the right to have access to beautiful, state-of-the-art playgrounds as any other neighborhood.”

The park’s new design features plenty of active space including basketball courts, rope walls, playground structures with bridges and towers, a new handball court and an ADA-compliant swing set. But there’s also plenty of benches and shade for the older crowd.

Silver noted the value of staying true to a park’s history, and he said White Park’s new design celebrates the legacy of the park’s namesake Walter White. White was a civil rights activist who helped advance and grow the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples (NAACP). White eventually became the organization’s executive secretary.

All of the speakers touched on that fact that East Harlem should be proud of its new park, and judging by the turnout on its opening day, that shouldn’t be a problem.

“Community Board 11 is very pleased with the design of the new White Park,” Collier said. “It has always been, still is and will continue to be a major destination for all the families of East Harlem and El Barrio.”

Via source

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