Monday, September 17, 2012

Harlem's Colonel Young Park Requires Upgrade

Colonel Young Park in Harlem, now in utter disrepair, needs to be upgraded, and the Friends of Colonel Young Park are on the verge of producing such an improvement in a key piece of Harlem park space.

Colonel Young Park

Colonel Charles Young was the first African American to obtain the rank of Colonel in the US Army, and his trailblazing standard of excellence and his nearly 30 years of service to his country are recognized through the naming of a Harlem Park at 143rd and Lenox in his honor.

Colonel Young Park is now dangerous and dilapidated from a lack of maintenance.

The Friends of Colonel Young Park are focused on improving Colonel Young Park and maintaining the park after it is upgraded to be the best youth baseball/softball facility in the United States.

Upgrading Colonel Young Park

The Friends of Colonel Young Park have obtained commitments for nearly $3 million of the estimated $4 million cost of upgrading Colonel Young Park. Those commitments come from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and City Council Member Inez Dickens of Harlem with the support of the New York City Council Black and Latino Caucus. The children of Harlem deserve the best facilities possible, and such an improvement is now within reach.

Press Coverage

The fight to improve Colonel Young Park has received the focus of DNA Info and of cable TV channel New York 1.

From DNA Info:

"When his oldest son turned 13 and wanted to start playing competitive baseball, Gregg Walker realized it was going to take a little ingenuity on his part. There weren't many baseball field options in Harlem. The only regulation-sized grass field with the standard 90 feet between the base pads is located at Colonel Young Park on West 143rd Street and Lenox Avenue, and is in horrible condition after years of neglect.

Despite a Parks Department renovation a few years ago that fixed its lights and fences, the grass at the park remained pocked with dangerous holes on the mound and in the field of play. Football teams tear up the grass when using the field for running and training, adult leagues play softball there, and others use the space for frequent barbecues and leave their trash behind.

"There weren't a lot of places where high quality baseball was being played," said Walker, 40, a senior vice president at Sony who helped create the Friends of Colonel Young Park with a goal of creating two or more first-class grass regulation-sized baseball fields at the central Harlem facility. "Our goal was to not just do something decent. We wanted regulation fields that are the envy of all. People in Connecticut should be fighting to play our kids on these fields," added Walker, who founded the Black Yankees in 2006 to give kids in Harlem the chance to play competitive organized baseball.

The Parks Department agreed with the plan, said Walker, but said they did not have money in their budget to complete the necessary renovations. In order to construct and maintain the field, the group would need to raise $4 million, a tall order.

Three years later, the group has $2.75 million committed from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Harlem Councilwoman Inez Dickens and the city council's Black and Latino Caucus."

New York 1 also focused on efforts to improve Colonel Young Park.

Please Help

Please contact the Friends of Colonel Young Park at to assist the efforts to make Colonel Young Park into the best youth baseball/softball destination in our country.

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