Every once in a while, a project comes along that seems to have a little magic about it. Between approvals, permitting, and any number of other hold-ups—when a project finally does come to fruition, somehow you know it was worth every minute of the wait! The new recreational field at KIPP’s Rise Academy in Newark’s West Ward is just such a project.
This ten year journey saw the transition of two mayors, two Rise Academy Directors and two West Ward council members. Maybe it was charmed, or perhaps just persistence, but this project finally culminated in a win-win for the school, the students and their families and has also beautified the neighborhood. The new field offers students a great green space for recess, soccer practice, flag football and many other opportunities for students to enjoy being outdoors.
Connecting properties along South Orange Avenue adjacent to the Rise Academy property held lots that included an abandoned apartment building, parking lot and tire store. While property and ownership investigations and some land remediation took the most time to perform, once completed, the field was built in less than one year. Maser Consulting P. A. provided sports and recreation design, civil/site design, landscape architecture, and construction administration for construction of this full-size synthetic Field Turf athletic surface with new cork infill by the Landtek Group. The new synthetic field, landscaped gardens and spectator areas take up the full length of the block and is surrounded on three sides by safety nets up to 40 feet high. The field surface is brightly striped for multiple recreational activities including a regulation youth-sized soccer field.
Marked by a ribbon cutting, and dedication ceremony earlier this week, attendees and speakers included special guests including Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins, Councilman Joseph McCallum, and School Board Member Kim Gaddy. The ceremony was followed by an uplifting field day for all students filled with interactive activities, fun and snacks.
Rise Academy is the second middle school in the KIPP New Jersey network. Since opening in August 2006, the school has grown to 450 students in grades 5-8. The Academy remained open during the construction of the field, and served as a resource for students matriculating in the neighboring campus.