Springfield pursues funding for $2M renovation of Greenleaf Park

Officials are pursuing federal and city funding for an estimated $2 million improvement project at Greenleaf Park in Sixteen Acres including new play equipment, water sprays and walking trails. With support from Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, the Park Commission voted last week to approve an application for a $1 million grant for the project. The grant is federally funded under the Land and Water Conservation Fund, administered by the state through the Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

“This park is a jewel for our Sixteen Acres neighborhood that has been underutilized for years,” Sarno said.

The mayor added that he is “delighted” the city is moving forward with a project to enhance the quality of life for neighborhood residents.

Sarno said he is supporting the use of $1 million in matching funds from the city. That funding will need City Council approval.

The planned improvements include splash pads for children, a new playground, youth athletic facilities, tennis court improvements, walking trails, landscaping, tree plantings, pollinator gardens and environmental education awareness signage, according to a city announcement.

Ward 5 City Councilor Marcus Williams, who is also council president, said the residents and families will enjoy the improvements.

“From increased walkability to the improvements for the parks’ courts and fields, the city is addressing longstanding concerns residents shared by joining forces,” Williams said.

The Parks Department is also petitioning the School Department to help with a major expansion of the 22-acre park.

The School Committee is being asked to transfer 24 acres of adjacent land it owns behind Mary M. Walsh school to the Park Department.

Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick said the park project “will help improve a vibrant urban open space that the residents of the Sixteen Acres will enjoy for years to come.”

He said he is also excited for the opportunities the project will provide to students at the Walsh school under the master plan.

“The renovated park will open many new opportunities for the school’s science program and physical education classes,” Warwick said.

Patrick Sullivan, the city’s director of parks, buildings and recreation management said the master plan for the park has been under discussion with the neighborhood for many years.

Greenleaf Park also remains one of the sites in the city being considered for a bike park, Sullivan said. The city will be hiring a consultant to evaluate the bike park proposal, he said.

“The proposed improvements will enhance the education programs offered at Walsh school and offer the residents of Sixteen Acres a park that can be enjoyed in ever season with the addition of the proposed splash pads and walking trail throughout the park,” Sullivan said. “This park offers a positive setting for recreation for all ages and is a key component in ensuring the quality of life for the residents of the city.”

Terry Rodriguez, chairwoman of the Park Commission, said she is “thrilled” with the opportunity that that master plan and grant application provide for the residents of Sixteen Acres.

She joined Sullivan in praising Sarno for his support.