lieutenant_john_h._martinson_playground_1_400Over the years, you will find name changes of many areas and locations. This is especially true when major changes, such as construction, occur. Staten Island has had many name changes to its features. In fact, there was one park that had gone through three different name changes in a span of only fifty years.

In 1959, construction began on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Officials believed that the construction of this bridge would allow for a major influx of people moving to Staten Island. If that were to happen, these new residents would need facilities which would cater to their families-such as parks. In 1962, a little parcel of land was acquired by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. It was located between the streets of Koch Boulevard, Osborne Street, Preston Avenue, and Woods of Arden Road. Three years after the site was acquired, a school was built there, separating the would-be park from Woods of Arden Road.

lieutenant_john_h._martinson_playground_baketball_400When the park first opened in 1969, it was known as Koch Playground. It had facilities such as an amphitheater, basketball courts, handball courts, play equipment, shuffleboard courts, and volleyball courts. Most of these facilities were taken out of the park when it was renovated in 1989. All that remained were the basketball courts, handball courts, and play equipment, which were all updated. In 1996, the play equipment was renovated again-this time with safety surfacing.

By the end of the twentieth century, while many of Staten Island's parks were being renovated, many were also being given name changes. At the time the Commissioner for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation was Henry J. Stern. It was this man who was responsible for many of the names you see on today's parks.

Koch Playground, like many other parks, had its first name change in 1997. This name change was due to the fact that the park was next to a school-this school being P.S.55. At that time, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Henry J. Stern changed the name of Koch Playground to Double Nickel Playground, which is a play on the school's name. "Double Nickel" also has significance throughout the rest of the country, as that is the speed limit for most highways.

A little over ten years after the park became known as Double Nickel Playground, its name was changed yet again. This time, it was dedicated in honor of a firefighter who had grown up in the neighborhood and had been renovating his family's house there. This man, Lieutenant Martinson, had succumbed to injuries he had received while fighting a fire in Brooklyn on January 3, 2008. On June 5, 2008, Double Nickel Playground was dedicated as Lieutenant John H. Martinson Playground.

Posted by Anthony Licciardello on


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