Rockaways, Staten Island to Host Parks Honoring Sandy Hook Children

By Jess Wisloski on February 16, 2013 4:46pm | Updated on February 18, 2013 8:17am

NEW YORK CITY — In an effort to heal scars left behind by the devastating events of late 2012, a firefighters' union plans to honor victims left behind after Hurricane Sandy as well as those killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Twenty-six parks — one dedicated to each victim shot and killed on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. — will be erected in areas that were devastated by the superstorm that struck a month and a half prior to the mass shooting, Bill Lavin, president of the New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association, told the Associated Press.

A playground in Staten Island's Midland Beach honoring slain 6-year-old Catherine Hubbard is the "perfect" memorial, said the girl's mother, Jenny Hubbard.

"I immediately could think of Catherine playing and swinging," she told the AP on Friday. "I know that Catherine will be there and she will love that there are kids to play with on that playground. In a way, this is like us giving her back her swing set."

New York will receive 10 parks through the Sandy Ground Project, which altogether will cost $2.1 million, the AP reported.

The first project, in Sea Bright, N.J., will be funded by the Foundation to Save the Jersey Shore and the 5,000-member firefighters union, Lavin told NJ.com last week. Each park will cost roughly $80,000 to $90,000 to build, organizers said.

The playgrounds or parks will each feature components that reflect the victim's interests or personality, Lavin said. For Catherine's park, that means it will have a tire swing, which she loved, and will be near a beach based on her love of sea animals, the AP reported.

Her brother Fred, 8, is the honorary project foreman, and he will help oversee construction as volunteers and community members develop the park, according to the AP.

In the Rockaways, a playground will honor Noah Pozner, 6, in an area near where the boy's grandfather lives.

"So when the family visits, they will see it," Lavin told the AP. They boy's parents Lenny and Veronique Pozner told the AP they "could not be happier" their son is being honored with the playground.

"We cannot imagine a more fitting tribute for Noah than a playground designed to offer children years of play and interaction with others in their community," they wrote to the AP.

For more information on the Sandy Ground Project: Where Angels Play, visit the group's website, Facebook page, or follow updates at @TheSandyGround on Twitter.

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