An athletic field grows in Gravesend

There’s a new athletic field in the offing for P.S. 721-a highschool that serves students with special needs- and the schoolcommunity is applauding the much-needed play space.

Borough President Marty Markowitz, Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasnyand Councilmember Domenic Recchia greeted the Gravesend school’scommunity at a groundbreaking ceremony on August 4, and declaredthe start of the $1.4 million project, which will be ready for useby the end of next year.

Markowitz said the field-named after legendary Brooklyn Dodger RoyCampanella, whose career ended after an automobile accident lefthim paralyzed -will properly represent the three-time MVP andeight-time All Star baseball player, and give the students and kidsin the community a place to move their beautiful bodies and stayfit.

These children deserve everything that we could possibly providethem, said Markowitz. Life has not treated them the way that mostof us are blessed and therefore we owe it to them. This is a greatthing for them and for those that will be in the school when theyare [no longer] there.

The project began three years ago when Recchia visited the schoolfor a carnival. He remembered looking at the field and said, Weneed to do something here. This is unacceptable- unacceptable for aschool in my district.

He said the field looked dilapidated, covered with cracks andholes, and the bumpy, uneven surface made it dangerous for thestudents, who are 14-21 years of age and have a range ofdisabilities.

Since then, Recchia has pushed for the funding to reconstruct thefield – a dream that will come to reality beginning August 16, whena construction team will tear up the current field, to replace itwith an athletic complex that consist of a baseball diamond,bleachers, soccer lines, revitalized basketball courts, and arunning track – painted in the blue and gold school colors.

The new area will also be wheelchair accessible and include specialvisibility tools, such as different textures in the play equipmentand color variations to help students with visual disabilitiesdistinguish between areas on the field.

Principal Wendy Weiss said the renovation will truly benefit thestudents in many ways.

Not only is it providing a place for them to get their bodies inshape, but for most of our students this is the social network forthem, this [field] is where their friends are, and what do you dowith your friends? You go and play, said Weiss.

Steven, whose sisters attend P.S. 721, regularly uses the space toplay basketball with his twin brother and said he is eager to seethe new sports field next year.

Now it looks a little dirty and stuff, and now when they fix itup, it’s going to look a lot better, maybe better basketballcourts, he said.

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