Despite Governor’s Recent Reopening Mandate, Seward Park Courts Remain Padlocked [Updated]

Posted on: May 20th, 2020 at 5:04 am by

During this Covid-19 pandemic, students and community have forfeited sports and other outdoor activities for weeks.  They crave a resumption in activity, yet here on the Lower East Side, are blocked by the collective Seward Park high schools.

The padlocks remain in place on a valuable neighborhood asset – the Seward Park Campus/Community Playground, situated just below Grand Street, and just north of the namesake park itself. Access is at stake. The courts – overseen by the school – have always attracted heavy usage that allows for social distancing.

Some of those uses are again permitted.

Governor Cuomo last week ordered in writing that certain Low-Risk Business and Recreational Activities (including tennis) are reopened statewide, as of May 15. Five days later, the continued lockout and signage at the front gate still stands in contradiction, stating, “Governor’s Directive – Park is Closed.”

The most basic responsibility of the campus and its principal is to show students how to be decent. An end to closing off this open space for students and neighbors could be a good start.

It appears that decisions regarding the school’s playground have previously been made by principal Scott Conti in conjunction with campus custodians.

Yet, Conti disputes as much. When reached for comment, he noted, “We have not heard anything from the NYCDOE regarding opening the courts.”

“The building custodian makes decisions regarding the space, sometimes in collaboration with the five principals in the building. I have never made decisions regarding the opening and closing of Seward Park.”

The five Seward Park high schools (also known as Seward Park Campus) are located in close proximity to the playground, in the iconic building at 350 Grand Street.

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