July 2, 2007Initiative will open 290 Schoolyards Citywide For Recreational Use by the General Public, 69 Playgrounds Open Today
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today launched the first phase of “The Schoolyards to Playgrounds Initiative” which will eventually open 290 school playgrounds citywide for use outside of school hours, 69 playgrounds are open today. Today begins a $111 million investment from the Bloomberg Administration towards the improvement of schoolyards, which will significantly advance the Mayor’s PlaNYC goal of having every New Yorker live within a 10 minute walk of a park or playground. The Mayor was joined at the announcement by Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Trust for Public Land President Rose Harvey, Councilmember Gale Brewer and I.S. 220 Principal Loretta Witek.
“Today marks the start of realizing a central goal of the PlaNYC agenda – making sure all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of a park or playground,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “To make this goal a reality, we’re renovating and opening 290 school playgrounds, constructing 8 new regional parks, completing bike lanes, lighting ball fields, turfing asphalt fields, expanding the greenway network, and opening up the waterfront to the public in every corner of the City. I want to thank the Trust for Public Land – through their Parks for People program, they are a great partner in building and preserving open space across the City, including this wonderful schoolyard here at IS 220.”
“The Schoolyards to Playgrounds Initiative” identified schoolyards in neighborhoods most in need of open space and will open them year round for public use, after school and on weekends. The playgrounds will be accessible from 8:00 a.m. until dusk. Of the 290 total, 69 schoolyards are already equipped for public use and are opening today. It is estimated that 100,000 children will be served by these first 69 playgrounds. In addition, the Mayor announced that the planning and design on the remaining 221 schoolyards has begun and will involve the installation of recreational amenities for public use. These renovations will include new tracks, fields, asphalting, turfing, fencing, play equipment, defined play areas, greenery, trees, landscaping and gardens. It is estimated that this program will allow more than 400,000 children and their families to be within a ten minute walk of a park or playground by 2030. Hundreds of playgrounds containing dozens of high-quality competition fields, and acres of open space exist in every borough, are often used only a few hours a day.
“The opening of the 69 school playgrounds is a great example of the City making maximum use of its recreational amenities so that kids can have fun and stay fit,” said Parks Commissioner Benepe. “We are already designing and can't wait to get to work on hundreds more playgrounds across the City – every site we improve will have greenery added to make playgrounds more inviting and healthy places for kids to play.”
“This is a wonderfully resourceful initiative,” said Chancellor Klein. “In opening 300 beautiful playgrounds for families throughout the city who did not have easy access to a playground, we are refurbishing the schoolyards for hundreds of thousands of students who will enjoy them every day. PlaNYC will make a real difference in the health and happiness of the city’s children and of the communities in which they live, and the DOE is proud to be part of it.”
Through their Parks for People Initiative, The Trust for Public Land works in cities across America to ensure that everyone, particularly every child, enjoys close-to-home access to a park, playground, or natural area. The Trust for Public Land will develop 30 schoolyards into model community parks through a child-led design process and extensive community partnerships. Another 161 sites will receive participatory design oversight by TPL for the construction of new playgrounds. The Trust for Public Land will be raising $8.5 in funding for renovations.
“The Mayor’s schoolyard initiative will build and open to the City’s underserved neighborhoods over 290 parks and playgrounds where there were none before. It is the largest schoolyard transformation in the country and we are pleased to be the City’s partner. These playgrounds will be designed with and by the community and this intensive local participation and involvement will help build an investment in the future stewardship of these sites,” said Rose Harvey, senior vice president for The Trust for Public Land.
“The Schoolyards to Playgrounds Initiative” was included in the Mayor’s Earth Day PlaNYC speech, 127 proposals that run from the relatively easy to achieve, like the already-underway replacement of thousands of traditional incandescent light bulbs in City buildings with compact fluorescent lights, to proposals that have never before been tried by a major American city, like planting mollusks in polluted waterways to naturally clean them. Together, these initiatives will help meet the challenges faced by New York City as its population continues to grow, with an expected 1 million more people arriving between now and 2030, while at the same time reducing the City's greenhouse gas emissions by 30%. PlaNYC includes a $1.2 billion investment in the city’s parks and open spaces, which will create new parks and recreational facilities and rehabilitate many existing park facilities. For more information on this and other PlaNYC initiatives, visit www.nyc.gov.
Stu Loeser / Jason Post