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Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Lower Manhattan Development Corporation President Stefan Pryor, Community Board 3 Chair David McWater, and I.S. 131 students and principal Jane Lehrac today cut the ribbon on Hester & Canal Street Field in Sara D. Roosevelt Park. The $2.1 million project was funded through a Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) grant.
“With a new state-of-the-art synthetic track and field and increased green space, Sara D. Roosevelt Park offers the surrounding Chinatown community more and better recreational opportunities than ever before,” said Commissioner Benepe. “Thanks to the support of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, area residents can now relax and recreate in this and a dozen other new or renovated parks and green spaces.”
“Funding park improvements throughout the area positively impacts the quality of life for residents in Lower Manhattan, which is why it is an ongoing priority for the LMDC,” said LMDC President Stefan Pryor. “The improvements made here at Sara D. Roosevelt, and those at other parks, are an important part of our mission to not just rebuild, but to make Lower Manhattan better than it was before. We appreciate the leadership of Governor Pataki, Mayor Bloomberg and the joint efforts of students at I.S. 131 and the Parks Department under Commissioner Benepe.”
Parks & Recreation landscape designer Nancy Prince and resident engineer William Leong created the design, which features a synthetic turf field and three-lane track that replaces the park's previous patched asphalt field. The Park's Canal and Chrystie Street entrance was also reconstructed, and new paths, benches, lighting, and decorative pavement were added. The site's perimeter fence and wall was also reconstructed. The landscape was updated with an expanded lawn, and new tree, shrub and perennial plantings to compliment the existing large plane trees.
In May 2003, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor George Pataki announced the LMDC's allocation of $25 million to rejuvenate and create new green spaces throughout Lower Manhattan. Sara D. Roosevelt's reconstruction is one of thirteen Lower Manhattan sites Parks & Recreation has or intends to create or improve though this grant.
The 7.85-acre park was named in 1934 after Sara Delano Roosevelt, mother of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The parkland was acquired by the City in 1929 for the purpose of widening Chrystie and Forsyth Streets and building low-cost housing, but was later set aside for “playgrounds and resting places for mothers and children.” The construction of the park in 1934 was the largest park project on the Lower East Side since the acquisition of Tompkins Square Park a century earlier. At the park's dedication on September 14, 1934, Harry H. Schlacht, founder of the East Side Home News, proclaimed the day to be “the birth of a new Lower East Side.”