Newark has received a $750,000 federal grant from the National Park Service to build the final phase of Jesse Allen Park in Newark's Central Ward that will 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 Ras Baraka.
The eight-acre 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® exercise stations, a water play spray area, and climate-resilient garden features.
"Jesse Allen Park has always been an anchor in the Central Ward for so many years," said Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins. "As we continue to deal with the burden of crime in our community, open space and recreation have always been a great equalizer and protective factor for our children. This is a great day for Newark and an awesome day for the Central Ward."
The $750,000 for phase three comes from the National Park Service Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program, a competitive national grant program designed to help urban communities improve access to outdoor recreation.
“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," said U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez. "I look forward to visiting!”
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, the former mayor of Newark, said he knows firsthand how important open space is to the well-being of urban centers.
"Projects like Jesse Allen Park not only promote healthy lifestyles, but also play a larger role in strengthening the fabric of our community," Booker said. "This federal investment, in collaboration with our local partners, will create new recreational and economic opportunities for generations of Newarkers to come.”
U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr., said he was "exceedingly pleased" that the U.S. Department of Interior selected Newark to receive the grant.
"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," Payne said. "I remain committed to doing everything I can to ensure New Jersey families have vibrant places to come together and enjoy our community.”
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.”