Dan Peterson played basketball in New Rochelle’s Lincoln Park a lot growing up. The city continued to nurture his love of the game when he played for Iona College as a freshman. So ever since he started Project Backboard, a program that installs vibrant works of art on renovated basketball courts around the world, he knew he wanted to do a project in his home park. Through collaboration with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and the New Rochelle Basketball Association, with support from the NBA and New York State, Project Backboard transformed the court in Lincoln Park last fall.
“My background is all basketball, not much to do with art,” Peterson says. “But I’ve realized creating art on the basketball court brings new energy to the park and draws new people to visit. It’s important to me that the court become a place for family play and that the park becomes better, safer, and cleaner.”
“It’s important to me that the court become a place for family play and that the park becomes better, safer, and cleaner.”
According to New Rochelle City Council member Jared Rice, the Project Backboard installation is part of a master plan to update and modernize one of the busiest parks in New Rochelle. Over the last few years, it’s included a new playground, a community-garden expansion, and now the basketball court, with plans in motion to renovate the baseball park into a multipurpose field.
“This is all part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative to connect the Lincoln Avenue corridor to New Rochelle’s burgeoning downtown,” says Councilman Rice. “Now that we have the most beautiful court in all of Westchester, we’re looking to ramp up our summer basketball activities and enhance our summer league.”
“People always love smooth new basketball courts, but adding art is what changes how people view the space,” says Peterson. “In terms of developing community engagement, the art’s been essential.”