BY JON CRONIN
After seven years of advocacy and nearly four years without their own playing field, Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood has broken ground on their new athletic field next to the Grover Cleveland Playground on DeKalb Avenue.
Denise Vittor, principal of Grover Cleveland High School, said this project has been a long time coming.
Last Friday, one of the most frigid days of the year, state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said, “New York City is below average for natural green space throughout the country. We are below the national average. Whenever we get a chance to break ground on a green space, especially in Queens, it’s a great day.”
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) said when she came into City Council in 2009, the community told her about the park on DeKalb Avenue which had fallen into disrepair and no one was using anymore. “It was once a place the kids would come to place soccer or to run track and field,” she said.
She added that after the recent surge of storms hitting the East Coast damaged the field, “It was really a disregarded open space.”
Now because of the partnership between the schools, Sen. Addabbo, the School Construction Authority and Crowley and her colleague Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D- Brooklyn), Crowley said, “We were able to make sure together, that we found the resources. This is a multi-million dollar project that will not only benefit the kids at Grover Cleveland but the entire community.”
She noted that a field like this is not only about the ability to play games on it, but “building a stronger camaraderie and sportsmanship, and who couldn’t use that?”
“I forgot how wonderful this view is, I’ve probably spend more time here than in my own backyard,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5.
Jack Ciano, athletic director at Grover Cleveland High School, said he is thrilled to see the park undergoing rehabilitation.
“We’ve been nomads for four years,” he said, noting that the park, which was covered in Astroturf, was too worn to use even before Hurricane Sandy hit.
For the past four years the school has been bouncing around local parks like Juniper Valley Park and the smaller athletic field across from the high school.
Crowley, Addabbo, and a representative Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan’s (D-Sunnyside) all credited Vittor with turning around Grover Cleveland High School. Addabbo noted, “In my conversations about Grover Cleveland, I’ve credited you with saving that school.”
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin