New CB8 Push to Name John Jay Pool for Henry Stern - Manhattan Express | Manhattan Express

New CB8 Push to Name John Jay Pool for Henry Stern

Henry Stern, the former longtime parks commissioner, outside City Hall in 2008. | THOMAS GOOD / NLN

BY JACKSON CHEN | Community Board 8 is doubling down on its request to rename the pool in John Jay Park after Henry Stern, the second-longest-serving commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation, despite the city’s rejection of the idea earlier this year.

During a May 4 CB8 Parks Committee meeting, members unanimously passed a second resolution calling for a Henry Stern Pool in the park on York Avenue between East 76th and 78th Streets. CB8 members want to honor Stern, who served 15 years as commissioner in two stints — under Mayors Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani — and his lifelong dedication to improving city parks.

Stern was a regular at the pool in John Jay Park, even hosting an annual event there to celebrate the city’s public pool system.

During this month’s Parks Committee meeting, members first learned that the department had rejected their renaming resolution from last September. The parks department decision, based on its policy that parks be dedicated in somebody’s name no earlier than three years following their death, was made in January, but CB8 chair Jim Clynes explained that the letter was received and filed in the district office but had not been handed off to him or the Parks Committee co-chairs until recently.

A January 26 letter from parks department Manhattan borough commissioner William Castro, responding to CB8’s September request, stated, “Your resolution is somewhat premature.”

He also wrote, “Many of us at Parks, myself included, benefitted from the many contributions [Stern] made to the agency as commissioner and have a great deal of respect and fondness for him. We will not be able to fulfill the board’s request, but I would like you to tell your members how much we truly appreciate the kind gesture they made by passing this resolution.”

Learning of the rejection just a few days after Stern’s 82nd birthday on May 1, committee members decided to push for more than simply making a gesture. Their second resolution on the issue passed unanimously and is expected to go before the full board on May 17.

“We did decide that we’d go ahead and pass a second request anyway, acknowledging this isn’t the normal policy of the parks department but nonetheless it was deserved,” Peggy Price, committee co-chair, said.

The pool at John Jay Park that admirers of Henry Stern hope to have named for him. | NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION

Morgan Pehme, the former executive director of New York Civic, a government watchdog group formed by Stern after he left his parks department post, said supporters of honoring Stern had already been aware of the agency naming policy, but noted that the Manhattan Municipal Building is named for former Mayor David Dinkins, the New York Public Library branch on West 115th Street is named for singer and political activist Harry Belafonte, and the Queensboro Bridge was named for former Mayor Ed Koch three years before his death.

None of that, however, has to date swayed the parks department from hewing to its policy, even with support for the idea on the community board and among elected officials.

“I think it’s a great way to honor one of the most important people in the history of New York City parks,” Pehme said. “And I hope that the city can find a way to expedite the process and honor the commissioner while he’s alive.”

When contacted about the May 4 resolution, the department reiterated that its policy prohibits naming parks after any living person.

“From significantly expanding park acreage to launching the Tree Census to establishing Partnerships for Parks, Commissioner Stern’s contributions to NYC Parks helped to make our parks system a model for public spaces in major cities, and the envy of the world,” Sam Biederman, a Parks Department spokesperson, said in a statement that nonetheless pointed to its practice barring it from honoring Stern at this time.

3 Responses to New CB8 Push to Name John Jay Pool for Henry Stern

  1. Alex June 2, 2017 at 4:49 am

    Is it right to rename the pool that is identified with its current name since years?
    Read Interesting article

  2. Will August 24, 2017 at 3:04 pm


  3. Fred December 25, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    What is the need of renaming parks and pools? It makes difficult for people to locate them with their popular names.
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