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June 25, 2015

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The Trust for Public Land and New York City Open “Green” Playground in the Bronx

Asphalt Lot Transformed, Will Serve 1,600 Pre-K to Eighth Grade Students; Photos Available on DEP’s Flickr Page

Playground’s Green Infrastructure will Capture up to 700,000 Gallons of Stormwater a Year and Help to Reduce Pollution in the Bronx River

The Trust for Public Land and New York City today unveiled a state-of-the art-playground on a formerly barren asphalt lot at the School of Science and Applied Learning, CS 300, in the Tremont neighborhood of the Bronx. Designed with help from the school’s students and built in partnership with New York City, the 1.2 acre playground will include green infrastructure components that will allow the space to capture up to 700,000 gallons of stormwater runoff each year and help to improve the health of the Bronx River. CS 300 students will share the new playground with two middle schools and a District 75 School that serves special needs students, co-located in the building. The playground will also operate as a public open space after school on weekdays, and during weekends, holidays and school vacations.

“The children at CS 300 lack a real playground. Partnering with school officials and community residents, The Trust for Public Land conducted a participatory design process to engage students, parents, teachers, and neighborhood residents in designing playground improvements that would best address the needs and preferences of the school’s students and families,” said Mary Alice Lee, director of The Trust for Public Land’s New York City Playgrounds Program. “Each of The Trust for Public Land's playgrounds is so special because they are designed by the users—the very students and neighbors who will be enjoying the park for years to come.”

“CS 300’s new playground is not only beautiful and safe, it will also help to reduce pollution in the Bronx River,” said NYC Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Emily Lloyd. “The green playground will also help to raise awareness amongst young New Yorkers about the connection between effective stormwater management and the health of our local waterways.”

The playground is being funded through an innovative public-private partnership, with a private donation from MetLife Foundation, and public funding from former New York City Council Member Joel Rivera and the departments of Education and Environmental Protection and the School Construction Authority. Total cost is just over $1 million, including $730,000 for construction and $333,000 for design, community engagement and environmental education.

Community participation is a cornerstone of The Trust for Public Land’s NYC Playgrounds Program, and students spent three months helping plan the new playground. The Trust for Public Land worked closely with students from all four schools in the building: CS 300, MS 129, Kappa III and P 10, the District 75 school.

The new schoolyard features two separate basketball areas for multiple practice hoops—three hoops for middle school students and two for younger students and special needs students, including a lower hoop for the youngest children, a feature enthusiastically suggested by the school’s physical education staff. It also includes a turf field, running track, bleachers, play equipment, safety mats, drinking fountain and a mural. CS 300’s Principal, Venessa Singleton, contributed ideas for an outdoor classroom and garden to promote the teaching of earth sciences through hands-on learning.

Additionally, the playground features green infrastructure elements, such as bioswales, a rain garden and specialized plantings. That focus on green infrastructure is a hallmark of The Trust for Public Land’s playground work. These features reduce storm runoff that can flood streets and overwhelm sewer systems, allowing untreated water to end up in rivers and bays. Each playground absorbs at least half a million gallons of water annually and includes 20-30 new trees that bring shade and better air quality to their neighborhoods. In New York, the group is planning similar playgrounds in the Jamaica Bay, Newtown Creek and Gowanus Canal watersheds.

Since 1996, The Trust for Public Land, working with the city, has helped transform more than 180 public schoolyards from asphalt lots to spaces which offer safe and durable play equipment, athletic facilities and gardens. The program has added more than 150 acres of additional playground space serving the nearly 3.3 million people who live within a half-mile of one of the sites. The need is critical in a city where 73 percent of low-income neighborhoods fail to meet the city’s standard of 2.5 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents.

DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than one billion gallons of water each day to more than nine million residents, including eight million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program, with nearly $14 billion in investments planned over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. This capital program is responsible for critical projects like City Water Tunnel No. 3; the Staten Island Bluebelt program, an ecologically sound and cost-effective stormwater management system; the city’s Watershed Protection Program, which protects sensitive lands upstate near the city’s reservoirs in order to maintain their high water quality; and the installation of more than 820,000 Automated Meter Reading devices, which will allow customers to track their daily water use, more easily manage their accounts and be alerted to potential leaks on their properties. For more information, visit, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

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