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Clark School students and neighborhood youth asked to help plan a new park

(Plain Press, January 2021)  CMSD NEWS BUREAU  Clark School students might soon be playing in a park that they had a hand in designing.

   The Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit with an office in Cleveland, is asking Clark and other neighborhood students to indicate features they want to see in a small City of Cleveland park planned for land near the school.

   Students who submit suggestions could win a Google Chromebook, Apple iPad or other prizes. A local neighborhood or arts organization could receive $5,000 to turn one of the ideas into reality.

   The Trust for Public Land, which creates parks and protects land, is assisting the city with the project through its Parks for People program. The goal of the program is to place recreation areas within a 10-minute walk from residents’ homes.

   The Clark Avenue park would sit between a city recreation center and Clark School.

   “The park would not be that big, but it would be significant for the community,” said Sean Terry, Parks for People program director for the Trust for Public Land.

   To get suggestions for amenities, the Trust for Public Land has circulated 1,000 copies of an activities book students can use to show their ideas and could order printing of up to 2,000 additional copies.

   The book also can be downloaded online. To download the book or obtain further information, go to tpl.org/our-work/clark-avenue-park.

   Clark Principal Amanda Rodriguez said the park would provide significant benefits for the school and the community. And she has her own thoughts about what could be included in the design.

   “This outdoor area can be used to gather and socialize close to school and home,” she said. “Clark School would love to create a school garden at the park to utilize as a teaching and learning location for our students, which will allow us to provide hands-on learning experiences.”

   Former ward councilman Matt Zone agreed the park is sorely needed in the Clark School neighborhood. He said giving students a say in the design would give them a sense of ownership.

   “They can be caretakers and be good stewards of the property,” said Zone, who left the council last month to become senior vice president and executive director of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities program.

   The Clark Avenue project marked the first time the Trust for Public Land has used the activities book. The concept has since been expanded to other cities.

   The Trust passed out several hundred copies of the activities book at events organized by the Metro West Community Development Organization. More recently, the Trust for Public Land has explored outreach through the recreation center’s programs and communications.

   Full or partially completed activity books may be returned by using a Parks Unlimited drop box located outside the front entrance to Clark Recreation Center, 5706 Clark Ave.

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