Ranaqua Park is officially reopen for business. After closing for nearly a year, community leaders and residents alike enjoyed a ribbon-cutting ceremony on a very beautiful first day of May.
The renovation of the park on East 136th Street between Willis Avenue and Brown Place, is part of the Community Parks Initiative, which was launched in fall 2014 and is currently investing $318 million in capital dollars through 2019 to renovate more than 60 NYC parks that are in need of significant improvements.
“We (Community Board 1) are very pleased that the Parks Department is moving forward with this initiative,” said Cedric Loftin, the board’s district manager. “We’re glad that all of the residents of this neighborhood will be able to utilize this park in its magnificent scope.”
The new design of Ranaqua Park includes play equipment for children, ages 2-12, swings, new lighting, a new seating area, spray showers; drinking fountains, game tables and a bike rack. The synthetic turf field, along with the playground area, will be completely reconstructed.
Councilwoman Diana Ayala attended the formal ribbon-cutting on Tuesday, May 1.
“This was a beautiful event and a long time coming,” Ayala said. “I drive down 135th Street all the time over the summer and parks in the area had not seen much capital investment prior, this is great for the Bronx,” she added.
Ayala also mentioned how this initiative is something very meaningful to herself and that Saw Mill Park is next on the list.
The initiative targets investments in parks located in densely populated and growing neighborhoods where concentrations of poverty are higher than average.
Ranaqua Park received a total of $3.5 million in Community Parks Initiative funding.
“This playground has been completely renovated, and just in time for the warm weather! Ranaqua Playground is just one of 17 parks in the Bronx that we are reconstructing under the Community Parks Initiative,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver.
“These 17 parks hadn’t seen meaningful renovations in decades. Ranaqua Park now has a synthetic turf field and completely new playground—something this neighborhood truly needed. We’ve also added new trees and greenery, and added a rain garden to collect storm water, thanks to funding from the (NYC) Department of Environmental Protection,” Silver added.
“This was a park that needed renovation, we couldn’t be more thrilled with the investment in this park,” Loftin said.
The groundbreaking on the project was held in late May of 2017.
“The improvements of this park will have an enormously positive impact on the community as a whole,” said Mary Bellini, Mott Haven Academy Charter School’s director of external affairs. “I think it will be a big boost for our students and I hope it will be a symbol of leadership for this neighborhood, she added.
Along with Ranaqua Park, other Community Parks Initiative sites in the Bronx include Black Rock Playground, Hunts Point Playground, Little Claremont Park, Longfellow Garden, Lyons Square Playground, Melrose Commons Site 32, Ogden Plimpton Playground, Playground 52, Saw Mill Playground, Seabury Park and Walton Park.