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NY4P Report Spurs Community Action in Central Harlem

Friday, December 16, 2011
When members of the Harlem-based Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association (MMPCIA) opened NY4P’s Report Card on Large Parks in early November, they quickly noticed that their neighborhood park, Marcus Garvey, had scored lower than any other in Manhattan.

“We were shocked to see it score a D,” said Laurent Delly, Vice President of the MMPCIA. “The Report Card really was a wake-up call and has helped us be a lot more proactive in addressing issues in the park.”

While the 30-year-old community organization had focused mostly on housing and economic development issues, its attention quickly turned to the park that is, as Delly said, at the heart of the community. The 20-acre space opened in 1840 as Mount Morris Park and was renamed in 1973. It hosts the annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, among other events.

After reading the Report Card, MMPCIA quickly got in touch with the Marcus Garvey Alliance and organized a series of leaf and trash cleanups in November. They met with New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Manhattan Borough Commissioner William Castro. And they have solidified a group of neighborhood volunteers who are devoted to improving the park.

Since the Report Card’s research was finished, several of the benches have been fixed and the amphitheater has been renovated, but there’s still much work to be done. Weed growth and worn playground equipment – along with new lamppost installation and refurbishment of the park’s iconic Harlem Fire Watchtower – are all issues MMPCIA is determined to address – both through building the fledgling volunteer network and working with the Parks Department and elected officials.

“”We want to get an A next time, so we’re fighting vigorously for it,” Delly said.

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