Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Lower Manhattan Development Corporation President Kevin M. Rampe, State Senator Martin Connor and Council Member Alan Gerson and students from I.S. 131 today broke ground on Hester & Canal Street Field in Sara D. Roosevelt Park. The nearly $3 million project, with funds allocated by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, includes replacing the park's asphalt field with synthetic turf surrounded by a three-lane synthetic track. The park entrance at Canal and Chrystie streets will be reconstructed, and new paths, benches, park lighting and water supply will be added. The site's perimeter fence and wall will also be reconstructed and the lawn will be expanded. New trees, shrubs, perennials, and other landscaping will provide a green gateway to Lower Manhattan. "This administration is committed to revitalizing Lower Manhattan, and the new field and track at Sara D. Roosevelt Park will bring a breathe of green into this otherwise gray asphalt park," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "Synthetic turf is the wave of the future and this new field will give the children of the Lower East Side a great place to play. We are grateful for the support of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and look forward to continuing to work together to rejuvenate open spaces for all New Yorkers." "Today's groundbreaking is a symbol of what is to come for Lower Manhattan--over a dozen new and revitalized parks and green spaces downtown, with six to debut this spring," said LMDC President Kevin M. Rampe. "Under the leadership of Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg, the LMDC has made an unprecedented commitment of $25 million dollars for open spaces--amenities for a true mixed use community." Middle school students from I.S. 131 helped Parks & Recreation's Landscape Architect Nancy Prince to design the new field and Parks & Recreation's Resident Engineer Mahmoud Gouda is overseeing the construction. Hester & Canal Street Field in Sara D. Roosevelt Park is expected to be complete in fall 2004. In May 2003, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Governor George E. Pataki announced the LMDC's allocation of $25 million to rejuvenate and create over a dozen new green spaces throughout Lower Manhattan. The reconstruction of Sara D. Roosevelt exemplifies Parks & Recreation's plans to enhance each of these Lower Manhattan sites with horticultural elements such as flowering trees, ornamental shrubs and planting beds, as well as new benches, lighting and decorative paving. The 7.85-acre park was named in 1934 after Sara Delano Roosevelt (1854 -1941), mother of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945). The parkland was acquired by the City in 1929 for the purpose of widening Chrystie and Forsyth Streets and building low-cost housing, but was later set aside for "playgrounds and resting places for mothers and children." The construction of the park in 1934 was the largest park project on the Lower East Side since the acquisition of Tompkins Square Park a century earlier. At the park's dedication on September 14, 1934, Harry H. Schlacht, founder of the East Side Home News, proclaimed the day to be "the birth of a new Lower East Side."