The best investment a municipal government can make is in recreation. The return on the aforementioned investment is the positive impact it will have on generations of residents.
Since taking office in 2018, we have increased our recreation budget by 65% and we have earmarked over $100 million to improve our parks, playgrounds, and athletic fields. We have been adamant about leveraging every available funding source from the federal, state, county, and local levels. Moreover, we created a non-profit organization aptly entitled, The Friends of Paterson Parks, which affords us additional opportunities to apply for more grants and secure donations from philanthropic organizations.
In the last four years we have invested four million dollars to renovate four fields. In the last four years we have improved four parks. Furthermore, in the last four years we have built four new playgrounds and two of those playgrounds are the first in Paterson to accommodate children with special needs. This year alone we plan to renovate four more athletic fields including our city’s only softball field that used almost exclusively by our young ladies.
We are also investing in improving our pools. In fact, at Lou Costello Pool we are aiming to earmark over one million dollars to build a state-of-the art park at the site.
The fieldhouse near Eastside High School was long neglected but now it has received over one million dollars in exterior and interior upgrades. We also named the first-rate facility after the late and lamented educational Giant, Dr. Gerald Glisson.
Late last year we met with a representative from the United States Tennis Association to discuss how we can collaborate to enhance our tennis courts. As a result of that meeting, I am proud to announce that we are applying for grant funding to renovate our three major tennis courts in Paterson.
We also have ambitious plans backed by major funding to augment the aesthetic appeal of our flagship parks. Both Eastside and Westside Parks are slated to undergo significant makeovers.
The most prominent play space that we will complete in 2023 is the highly-anticipated resurrection of historic Hinchliffe Stadium. The New Jersey Jackals will open their season in May and high school games have already been scheduled including a baseball classic named for Johnny Briggs, a Patersonian who starred in Major League Baseball.
Improving our parks, playgrounds, pools and athletic facilities is a priority and as long as I am mayor, I will continue to dedicate more money to creating more recreational opportunities for our youth.
Andre Sayegh is mayor of Paterson.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Paterson NJ must continue to invest in recreation for our kids