SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On Tuesday afternoon, local officials gathered in Schenectady to celebrate the opening of Jay Square. The new greenspace across from City Hall took nearly two years to complete.
Jay Square was built on the lot where two high-rise apartment buildings were destroyed in a fire in March 2015. The fire killed four individuals and left dozens homeless. Numerous building code violations were cited as a cause that allowed for the blaze to grow out of control.
“It was a tragedy,” said City of Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy. “We had a horrific event happen here where individuals lost their lives. Since then, we have seen this transform into a really great public space.”
The four individuals who lost their lives now have a tree planted in their honor. Landscape architect Mary Moore Wallinger says the space may have been born from the ashes of a tragedy but it will remain special. “I think the creation of a truly public square in this location is a beautiful and fitting tribute to its history.”
The accessible park features outdoor seating, game tables, and a small stage. Colorful Dr. Seuss-inspired signage can be spotted throughout the park.
“It is a place where families can picnic on a sunny day and friends can meet and chat,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara. “It is a place where artists and dreamers can seek inspiration, and where our community can make lasting memories. This place is a significant step towards making our city more vibrant, beautiful, and welcoming.”
The new public greenspace was one of four projects to receive a Neighborhood Revitalization Grant. The Schenectady Foundation grants $265k for neighborhood projects. Jay Square received $75,000. The project also received a $20,000 community challenge grant from AARP.