There’s good news this this afternoon concerning public access to the Seward Park campus playing fields. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is out with a press release announcing that the Department of Education, which owns the recreational area on Essex Street, has decided to reopen it for use by the general public.
As we first reported in May, the DOE had closed the facility for neighborhood use. Maintenance workers told residents budget cuts were to blame. Silver, who ten years ago helped secure money to refurbish the fields, sent a letter to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott urging him to reconsider. In today’s release, the Speaker said:
I am delighted that my neighbors on the Lower East Side and in Chinatown will now be able to enjoy this wonderful park… Recreational space is so precious to our neighborhood, particularly in the summer, and that is why I fought so hard for the public to once again have access to this field. I want to thank Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott for agreeing to reopen the field. I encourage children in our community to come out and enjoy it!
The rec area consists of basketball courts, tennis courts and a running track. it’s primarily meant for use by the schools located in the Seward Park campus on Grand Street, but it’s always been widely used by non-students. Beginning Monday, July 30, the fields will be opening from morning to dusk seven days a week.