Photo: ©2022 Saundra Kin
Happy New Year! 2023 Promises To Be Another Wonderful Year in the Park.
The fabulous rainbow above is surely an omen of great things to come for our park. Thanks to the hard work of NYC Parks, allocations from our elected officials, generous grants and donations from you our loyal donors, Morningside Park continues to improve with each passing year.
Here are just a FEW recent and upcoming highlights.
Capital Projects and Concessions:
Morningside is getting major new investments in our infrastructure. Working with the Mayor's Office, Council Member Shaun Abreu secured $6.3M for capital improvements in Morningside Park over the next three fiscal years. This investment will make much needed improvements to deteriorating stairs, the pond/waterfall and provide ADA compliant access to more of the upper level of the park. Parks tells us that this level of investment in a park by a single Council Member is unprecedented.
The lower path at the south end of the park is getting new paving and benches. The north end of the park will have similar work done in the Spring of 2023.
The park is getting a cafe concession on the park overlook at 112th Street. We have been advocating for this for years and helped solicit interest among our local businesses when the Parks Concession RFP was released in 2019. We are thrilled that the city has awarded the concession to local entrepreneur Crabman Mike. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2023.
STEM and Youth Engagement Programs
The Harlem Youth Gardeners (HYG) are set to return this Spring! We secured another round of funding from the West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC) that we will supplement with funds from our donors to run this popular program in Morningside and St. Nicholas parks beginning in March. We will be sending out email notice and posting to our IG account when the application goes live. It has not been uncommon for us to get over 200 applications for 12 spots in this program. HYG pays teens as they learn about horticulture and gain important job skills. Thank you WHDC and our donors who earmark their donations for this amazing program!
Community Learning Partners. This year student groups from PS 180, Columbia Greenhouse Nursery School, and Barnard College all helped plant and maintain gardens in the park.
Our volunteer events continue to hit it out of the park. The March - November Second Saturdays and our weekly Friday gardeners have provided over 1000 volunteer hours to the park for two years in a row! We are told volunteer hours can be valued at about $30/hour so that's a $30K investment in our park per year.
Arts and Cultural Programming:
We were thrilled to continue our tradition of bringing art to the park. The second iteration of Faces of Harlem graced our park for much of the year. And Tierra Fragil will continue to bring us joy well into 2023.
Our partnerships with local constituent groups and organizations continued to expand. While maintaining our years long collaboration with Miller Theater and the Columbia University Arts Initiative on the Morningside Lights lantern procession, we also worked with our local Senegalese community to bring an Afro Fashion Show to our annual Common Ground Festival.
The Father's Day Basketball Tournament has been a Harlem tradition for decades. We've been honored to have helped the tournament continue to flourish and now thanks to the 2021 renovation of the courts funded through allocations by Council Member (and now Borough President) Mark Levine and Borough President (and now Council Member) Gale Brewer the tournament has beautiful courts on which to play.
The Morningside Park Winter Celebration and Tree Lighting and continues to grow as does the amazing tree that we're told is the tallest living holiday tree in an NYC Park! This year we would not have been able to light it but were saved by some quick work and accomodation by NYC Parks and a generous private donation. We are so grateful!
Did you know that unlike most other park advocacy groups in the city we do our work as volunteers? With very low overhead, more of your donor dollars go straight into our programs in the park. If you haven't made a donation yet please consider doing so now! Lastly but most importantly, I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a truly HAPPY NEW YEAR! I'll see you in the park in 2023.
Brad Taylor, President