After undergoing nearly a year of construction, renovations for the Henry M. Jackson Park — located on Henry, Jackson and Grand Streets — were finally completed last Saturday. The park was fully renovated under Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s Community Parks Initiative, a $285 million-dollar project that seeks to refurbish parks in densely populated areas all throughout the city. The initiative specifically targets parks in growing neighborhood communities with high concentrations of poverty.
Construction for the Henry M Jackson Park began in August last year. With a budget of nearly $2 million dollars, plans were made to revamp the intermediate-sized basketball court by adding two junior courts with new hoops and backboards, along with a mini running track, benches and picnic tables. Park commissioners and city officials projected the project to be completed by next month, but construction actually finished one month early.
LESHP spoke to Elizabeth Justiniano, who is a longtime resident of the Lower East Side, and retired NYPD detective Mark Martin, who is originally from Brooklyn. Both are active members of the Henry Street Committee Advisory Board, a local community organization that pushed to get the Henry M. Jackson Park project completed. “The Parks department got a certain amount of money, and then they told us we had a certain amount for this park, and then we had the meetings, and then we told them what we wanted.” Justiniano explained. Justiniano and Martin have been going to the park for as long as they can remember. “I’ve been coming here since I was a kid. I’ve been playing ball in this community since the early 70s” Martin said.
According to the two board members, the park has been around for over 70 years. It was originally coined by the residents as “Anna K 12 park” because of the former P.S 12 school that sat near it. That school has since been torn down and replaced with upscale condominiums. In 1997, commissioner Stern cleverly gave the park its current name by combining the street names that surrounded it. Henry, Jackson, and Madison streets were all named after influential political leaders. The park’s name specifically honors Henry M. Jackson (1912 – 1983) a former U.S senator and member of the House of Representatives. Throughout his political career, Jackson staunchly opposed Communism and supported organized labor and Civil rights. He died in 1983 after unsuccessfully seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972 and 1976.
The fully-renovated park is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. When discussing the park’s newly-added features, Justiniano emphasizes the visual significance that these renovations bring. “You see all this here? We didn’t have none of this. It’s fantastic for the kids. We got what we wanted.”