On Friday, Aug. 26, family, friends and Union City officials took part in a dedication ceremony for the revamped and renamed Frank X. Clark Day Care Park, on 46th Street between Park and Hudson avenues.
"Today is a great day because [this park] is being named after a man who did so much for children," said Mayor Brian Stack. "He was my principal at Edison School, and he was the best educator Union City ever had."
Stack and members of the Union City Board of Commissioners presented Clark's widow Marjorie and his children Patrick Clark and Anne Mercado with a special proclamation on behalf of the city in recognition for his tireless efforts and dedication to Union City both as an educator and as a commissioner.
Park for the tots
Frank X. Clark Day Care Park will be the new playing ground for the Union City Day Care located at 219 47th Street, which houses approximately 299 of the city's preschoolers.
The park, which has been closed for six years, had fallen into dire disrepair, having been overrun with weeds and still having old wooden playground equipment. However, about a year and a half ago the city acquired some grant money and began a renovation of the 50 X 100 sq. ft. property. The area has been divided into a sprinkler park and a playground, which has been equipped with slides and swings, among other things.
"This park used to be one of the most neglected [areas] in the city," said Chris Irizarry, commissioner of parks and public works. "So, this is a [momentous] day for me because I remember playing in this park as a kid, and it was often closed, but now I look forward to bringing my daughter."
The daycare itself has a private entrance from the back into the building, which leads into to the park. The decision to name the park after Clark was decided this past spring.
Honoring an educator
Opening the ceremony was Clark's young grandson Justin Mercado, who led everyone in the pledge of allegiance.
After a few words were said by Stack and the Commissioners, Patrick Clark spoke on behalf of his family, who were visibly moved by the words and support being given on behalf of Frank Clark that day.
"It's really touching for me to see some of the people here today that I have not seen in a while coming out to honor my father," Patrick said.
Immediately following the ceremony, Marjorie Clark was given the honor of cutting the ribbon and officially opening the park. The city and the family also unveiled two plaques, one created in Clark's likeness, which will reside in the park in tribute to the revered educator.
Kids already flooded the park, as they were entertained by a clown act, balloon animals, and free popcorn and ice cream.
Clark spent 44 years as an educator in the Union City school system, 22 of which were spent as the principal of Thomas Edison Elementary School. He also served as a commissioner of parks and public works from 1970 until 1974.
An athletics enthusiast, Clark spent much time supporting the town's athletic teams and recreational events, especially for the area children.
Clark died last November at the age of 92.