After 8-year-old Jadann Williams was struck by an SUV driver and killed on East 22nd Street on August 26, many neighbors spoke out about the lack of park space and playgrounds in the area, saying children play on the dead-end block because there is nowhere else to go.
Data released by WNYC earlier this week backs up the neighbors’ complaints. According to WNYC’s map based on data from New York open spaces and Open Street Map, the block of East 22nd Street where Jadann Williams was hit is more than a half a mile away from the nearest park “as the crow flies.”
Officials from the New York City Parks Department say that they are working change this.
“We have a target that is to increase the number of New Yorkers within a walk to a park to 85 percent. Our timeline is by 2030,” Alyssa Cobb Konon, the Assistant Commissioner for Planning and Parklands for the New York City Parks Department told WNYC.
WNYC also looked at the open space ratio. In the area surrounding East 22nd Street and Ditmas Avenue — as well as most of the southern half of the neighborhood — the ratio was less than an acre of parkland available per 1,000 residents, much lower than the citywide average of 2.83 acres per 1,000 residents.
We reached out to Council Member Mathieu Eugene about his thoughts on the issue and what might be done to remedy the situation.
“Our children certainly need parks, which provide safe areas for them to play. I am a strong supporter of recreational spaces and I have invested millions of dollars of funding into various parks in our district. For this specific situation, however, community members told me they feel that a speed bump will be more beneficial to the area and may help prevent another senseless tragedy,” said Council Member Eugene in a statement.
Eugene said he has reached out to the Department of Transportation to see if a speed bump is a viable possibility for the neighborhood.
Updated 2:30pm: This article has been updated to include a statement from Council Member Mathieu Eugene.