In June of 2008, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and City of Newark broke ground for Nat Turner Park, a formerly abandoned open space in the Springfield section of the Central Ward. The nine acre space will service over 7,000 residents due to generous involvement of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Victoria Foundation and three community schools.
Eighteenth Avenue, Cleveland Elementary and Central High schools were part of the Master Plan Steering Committee in 2005, charged with outlining a design for the cities park. Organized as a competition, the top twenty essentials drummed up by the students were included in the final blue print. The winning list includes an amphitheatre, community event space, multi-purpose athletic field and playground. Construction is underway and scheduled to open in April 2009.
Paula Jones and Naketa Johnson are eighth grade students at Cleveland Elementary School, and were part of the original design team three years ago. They along with peers from all three schools participated in a project at Central High School yesterday that will etch their place in Newark history. "I thought we were going to come in and learn more about the park," began Johnson, "but this was different, I'd like to come back and do this again." Under the creative direction of Katherine Hackl, the students designed Mosaic tiles that will be incorporated into the park's amphitheater steps. With music as the only thematic restraint, the hour and a half workshop yielded fabulous results.
Engaged by The Trust For Public Land’s, Parks for People-Newark initiative, Katherine Hackl of Swan Street Studio in Lambertville, NJ is a ceramic and pottery artist. Her handcrafted work and community collaborations adore open spaces across the state of New Jersey. “This is a fun way to get kids and community involved in public art,” commented Hackl, “This is my first project in Newark, and I am happy to be here.” The 100 plus tiles will return to Hackl’s studio to be fired and glazed. Once dried, they will be ready for installation in April.