Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Junior League postpones upgrade to Julianne’s park amid public tug-of-war between Village of Pelham and school district

The vision plan for Julianne’s Playground presented in October 2019 by the Junior League, which has now postponed the park’s redesign. (Image courtesy

The Junior League of Pelham has “temporarily postponed” its plans to provide a major resign and upgrade to Julianne’s Playground, citing the talks between the Village of Pelham and the school district over the use of the park for a large sewer project, though those discussions appeared to end earlier this week with no deal and a court fight possible.

The Junior League said in press release Tuesday it will shift it’s “signature project”—those it takes on every five to eight years—to revitalizing Woodland Park.

“While we are taking a temporary pause on Julianne’s Playground, it’s important to emphasize that we are not walking away from our commitment,” said Amy Platt, president of the Junior League, in the press release. “Rather, we are strategically aligning our efforts with the broader community development plans to ensure that Julianne’s Playground emerges as a beacon of joy and inclusivity for all. We are incredibly excited about the opportunities that lie ahead at Woodland Park and look forward to channeling our energy into creating another cherished recreational space for Pelham residents.”

A year ago, the Junior League said the project at Julianne’s Playground would see the reimagining and re-creation of the school-district-owned park to provide facilities accommodating a range of ages from young children to senior citizens. Possible additions would include spaces for scout activities, a small platform or amphitheater, a play area for very small children and a renovated blacktop including boundary lines for various sports including basketball. The Julianne’s project was first presented to the community in autumn 2019 but was then delayed by the pandemic and the need for Hutchison Elementary School students to use the park for recess while new Hutch was being built.

The village and school district have been in unsuccessful talks over some form of transfer of Julianne’s Playground to the village, which wants to build underground reservoirs and install pumps at the park as a component of a proposed $39 million overhaul of the municipality’s stormwater sewers planned to reduce serious flooding that occurs in the north Pelham and Highbrook Avenue neighborhoods during major rain storms.

On Monday, Village of Pelham Mayor Chance Mullen said the village rejected the school district’s only offer, which was to exchange Julianne’s for an undefined piece of the village’s Wolfs Lane Park “that could be used for a future administrative office building and/or science lab.” The school system did not have an interest in any other village parcel or in money for the park, Mullen said. He would not answer when his board would consider declaring eminent domain over the playground to take possession of the land for the project.

The Pelham school board announced the same day it is hiring special legal counsel to fight a possible attempt by the village to “condemn and seize part or all” of the park using eminent domain.

Woodland Park, which is located in Wolfs Lane Park, was completed in 2015 as a Junior League signature project. In Tuesday’s press release, the Junior League called Woodland “an exciting opportunity to create a vibrant recreational space that fosters creativity, physical activity and social cohesion among Pelham residents of all ages.”

Last year, phase one of the renovation project at Julianne’s Playground was completed, when the school district ordered new equipment for Hutchinson School that didn’t fit the space allotted, and the gear was installed in the park. Phase two was planned to be much more extensive.


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