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Seward Park Athletic Grounds Remain Closed to Public
Anyone who’s tried to take advantage of the expansive Seward Park athletic grounds in recent months has likely experienced the lockout. That is, if you’re not a student within the Seward Park campus. Until earlier this year, members of the public were given access to this great neighborhood amenity after school hours and on weekends. Indeed, sometime in March, the Department of Education decided to end this privilege. Some speculated at the time that “budget cuts” were behind the decision.
As would be expected, the ultimate result was outrage in the community at large which had used the courts for decades. Neighbors began to organize, emails were sent to pols, and a Facebook page created to spread the word. And more recently, flyers were littered about Essex Street. Speaker Sheldon Silver even responded in kind, urging the DOE to reverse their edict.
Activist Mathew Wong is spearheading the grassroots campaign, and wrote a Facebook update last month saying that the parties are “going toward a positive way,” and that there should be an update real soon.
The Seward Park field is also the lifeblood of local business on the Essex thoroughfare. G & S Sporting Goods, Flowers Cafe, the Hester Street Fair, and S & J Grocery all benefited from the hordes who gathered to play. With regard to the latter, Wong notes that:
At least 90% of the people would go to S & J grocery to buy a Gatorade or a snack. S & J Grocery is the local comer store where everyone in the park assumes as their family store because of the generous hospitality they provide.