New York Times: In Newark, Children Reclaim a Playground’s Meaning
At a community meeting at the school on Tuesday night, students who participated in redesigning the schoolyard, in collaboration with landscape architects and the Trust for Public Land, unveiled the plans.
The plans include a running track, a synthetic-turf playing field, basketball courts and a learning garden. The students also hope it will be possible for the schoolyard to be open to the public on nights and weekends.
The renovated playground will cost approximately $1 million. More than $400,000 has been raised through private donors, according to Susan Clark, a spokeswoman for the Trust for Public Land. Her group arranged weekly meetings between the 16 students, who learned about landscape architecture (where rainwater goes), and the architects, who learned what a Newark schoolyard should be (safe).
Just as important as the physical makeover, designers and school administrators said they hoped the overhaul would wipe away a dark emblem of this city and the nightmare of one of its most high-profile killings. No monuments will memorialize the dead. It will still be a playground, but for the most part, it will cease to be what it had become.
“It’s a new beginning,” said James Harvey, whose son Dashon, 20, was shot and killed in the schoolyard on Aug. 4. “Lives will be built at that site again. We’ll look there for new hope,” he said in a telephone interview.
Mr. Harvey and parents of the other victims were consulted on the plans, he said. A memorial for his son and the other victims is being built in a park across the street from the school.