By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer
HARTFORD — City Officials said Hartford is getting something it “truly” deserves: a vibrant playground for children. Thanks to the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation.
On Tuesday, Mayor Pedro E. SegarraSen. John Fonfara and other guests officially marked the beginning of construction in the City’s Clay-Arsenal neighborhood, the poorest section of the city. Construction is scheduled to be completed by spring 2014.
Officials said that the facility is one of three new youth recreation parks built in partnership with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, which features an all-weather, low maintenance synthetic surface and will accommodate softball, baseball, football, and soccer.The other parks will be located at the Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet School at 280 Plainfield St., and Hyland Park.
So far, the city has spent $4 million of this year’s capital improvement budget for the construction of the three parks, bringing the total investment in park infrastructure to $17.6 million since 2010, officials said. In addition to ongoing upkeep and ADA compliance features, parks across the city underwent restoration this summer including; Cronin Park Playground, Goodwin Park Pond House, Hyland Park Playground, Keney Woodlands Playground, Pulaski Mall Playground, Sigourney Square Playground and Willie Ware Playground.
The partnership with the Foundation is part of their national Youth Development Park initiative, which aims to develop unique, multi-purpose, low maintenance fields with synthetic turf to provide a cohesive recreational and educational experience for underserved young people across the United States. There are currently youth development parks operating in Maryland, Texas, Virginia, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Minnesota. T “When we started the Foundation twelve years ago, we wanted to help kids and pay tribute to our dad,” said Cal Ripken, Jr., Baseball Hall-of-Famer and co-founder of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. “However, we never imagined we would be able to do so much for kids across the country. We now have a model that we are bringing to many other communities. I want to thank all of the people who helped make this possible and we are thrilled that children in Hartford will benefit from this wonderful field.”
The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation helps build character and teach critical life lessons to young people through baseball and softball themed programs. The organization has set a goal of building 50 or so youth development parks across the country in communities like Hartford.
“Baseball is more than a great pastime and good exercise for children and their families. It is an activity that provides young people with coaches and other positive role models while teaching them teamwork and lessons they can carry with them for the rest of their lives,” said Sen. John Fonfara.