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Morningside Park has become a jewel for local residents in Morningside Heights and Central Harlem. As the popularity of the park grows, a need to increase the lighting around the southern perimeter of the park has become necessary. "We talked for a long time about the problem of the darkness by the park," says Brad Taylor, president of the Friends of Morningside Park, Inc., a community resident. "But we just didn’t have the funds to replace the 40-year-old Cobra Head-style lights, which basically only illuminate the street."

Enter Assembly Member and long-time neighborhood resident Daniel O’Donnell. After negotiating with Columbia University, who will make a substantial contribution of $140,000, and working with Friends of Morningside Park, Assembly Member O’Donnell obtained $283,000 in Community Capital Assistance Program (CCAP) funding to install adequate street lighting around the perimeter of Morningside Park. Partnering with the Department of Transportation, the agency came up with an overall plan for what would be needed and produced estimates on the installation and maintenance costs. The new lighting will consist of Type M lampposts, which have two arms that allow both the street and sidewalk areas to be illuminated. In addition, these distinctive lampposts will maintain continuity with the design of the other lampposts already installed directly south of the park on Columbus Avenue.

"Columbia University takes seriously our responsibility to be a good neighbor and is proud to join Assembly Member O’Donnell and the Friends of Morningside Park in helping to improve this valuable resource," said Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger. "I would like to thank Danny for his leadership in making our community safer and brighter." Columbia University has also agreed to assume responsibility for the annual maintenance and cost of electricity for the pedestrian portion of the lighting.

Neighborhood residents make extensive use of Morningside Park, which means there are more people in the park in the late afternoon and early evening. "We really have Assembly Member O’Donnell to thank for this lighting," says Mr. Taylor. "Getting the funding for the new lights was his initiative. He took the ball, ran with it, and made it happen."

"The Friends of Morningside Park have fought to improve the quality of the Park and the University has reached out to help. Today we have a gorgeous example of an urban park, which will soon be an even better and safer resource for the diverse neighborhoods surrounding it," says Assembly Member O’Donnell.

Note: This article is an excerpt from Assembly Member O'Donnell's July 2005 Newsletter which can be read in its entirety here