April 30, 2013 By Bill Parry
A year after his untimely death, a new park in Jackson Heights will likely bear the name of Rory Staunton, a Sunnyside boy who tragically died at the age of 12 from sepsis.
The park incorporates the former athletic field of the Garden School [33-16 79th St.] that Rory Staunton attended.
That field was sold by the financially-strapped private school to the city for park space earlier this year, according to the New York Times. The school had considered bids from real estate developers but was able to sell it to the city for $6 million.
The plan to name the new park after Rory Staunton has received the unanimous support of Community Board 3, after local politicians and civic groups endorsed it. However, it is still pending Parks Department approval.
Rory Staunton scratched his elbow while playing basketball at the Garden School on March 29, 2012, and died four days later from sepsis. His parents have worked to raise awareness of the dangers of sepsis, leading to new state regulations.
According to the Jackson Heights Green Alliance, Rory’s father, Ciaran, who is a board member at the Garden School, helped block the sale of the field to a developer who wanted to build a 10 story apartment building. The property was acquired by the Parks Department in February.
City Councilmember Daniel Dromm allocated $4 million for the purchase. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall added $1 million, as did the NYC Mayor’s Fund.
As part of the deal, the school will also have exclusive use of the field from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, according to reports.
An Alliance newsletter states: “It is thanks to Rory, his sister Kathleen, and parents Ciaran and Orlaith that today we have new parkland there and not a 10-story apartment building, and it is time to show our gratitude to a family that has suffered so much, and also given so much.”
Ciaran Staunton declined to comment for this story, but a statement from the family is on Rory’s Facebook page. It reads: “We would like to thank everyone in the Jackson Heights Community for their generosity in remembering our son Rory – it was Rory’s dream to keep the Garden School field as an open green space for the Jackson Heights community.”