The Garden School is an independent pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade school in Jackson Heights. The school will lease the land from the Parks Department for the next five years, giving the school exclusive rights to the park during school hours, with the public having access at other times.
“We are pleased to announce the sale of the field to the City of New York,” said Richard Marotta, headmaster of The Garden School. “We are very pleased to join with our community in establishing this permanent open space for our Garden School family and for all of our neighbors.”
Marotta said the school will be responsible for leaving the park in good condition for the public to use after 4 p.m. He also said that once the five-year lease expires, he hopes it will be renewed.
The land was sold at a cost of $6 million. The new park will be accessible to the public from 78th and 79th streets.
“Every New Yorker should have access to adequate parks and recreational opportunities,” said Councilman Daniel Dromm. “The purchase of The Garden School athletic field means that a park-starved community like Jackson Heights will get to preserve precious open space and have the opportunity to almost double the size of the neighboring Travers Park.”
This is the first time the city has made such a deal with a private school, but the city has similar arrangements at public schools. There are 229 schools in the “Schoolyard to Playground” program, which gives the public access to school property when kids aren’t in class.