New Playground for Queens Public School, Jamaica Community

November 18, 2010
Press release

Today P.S. 50 students celebrated the new community playground they helped design in Jamaica, Queens. The new playground, created in partnership with Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC initiative, will be available to the school's 900 students and to families from the surrounding community.

Previously a mostly vacant lot, the schoolyard at P.S. 50 has now been transformed into a new $1 million community playground, led by The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and a design team of students, teachers, parents, and members of the community. The New York City Department of Education considers P.S. 50 a "high need" school. The playground was funded in part by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

"This neighborhood in Jamaica, Queens, is underserved by parks and recreation space. TPL wanted to provide a safe place to play for the students of P.S. 50 and their community," said Mary Alice Lee, director of TPL's New York City Playgrounds Program.

P.S. 50, located at 143-26 101st Avenue in Queens, has a diverse student body of more than 900 pre-kindergarten-through-sixth grade students. TPL led a three-month participatory design process with students, community members, and staff from the Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services, Inc., to design the new playground to better serve the needs of the children and the community. Catholic Charities will continue running after-school programming in the new playground.

"We have turned a wasteland of concrete into a dreamland of a playground that will be treasured and joyfully used by the school and the community for years to come," said P.S. 50 Principal Rina Manjarrez.

The playground features an outdoor Ping-Pong table, a turf field, a running track, a basketball practice area, a gazebo, a stage, an outdoor classroom, trees, a garden planted by the students and play equipment modeled after the Titanic.

The playground at P.S. 50 was created in partnership with Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC Schoolyards to Playgrounds initiative and is the 24th of 28 community parks that TPL is designing and building as part of this program. In addition, TPL has led participatory design for another 123 playgrounds that the city is building. When completed the playgrounds will serve 380,000 New York City students and residents.

"The generosity of the Dell family foundation enables hundreds of children now to have a place close to home where they can exercise both mind and muscles," said Lee.

"Through the Schoolyards to Playgrounds program, which has to date converted 165 underutilized sites into vibrant, community playgrounds, we are working to achieve the PlaNYC goal of ensuring all New Yorkers live within a ten minute walk of a park," said David Bragdon, Director of the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. "These investments are not only helping to redefine accessible public space in the city, but The Trust for Public Land's innovative approach to participatory design is reshaping how our children engage with their neighborhoods and schools."

The ping-pong table featured at P.S. 50 is a product of Henge, Inc. and the first of its kind at a New York City public school. Conceived by Henge Design Engineer Jeff Melin as a playable sculpture with a four-windowed base, the table's overall dimensions fit regulations set by ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation). The table is 2,800 pounds of tested, reinforced concrete and its avocado-tinted top is hand ground to expose a terrazzo surface that offers a bounce like that of a standard table.

The Trust for Public Land conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. TPL has created or enhanced more than 250 neighborhood parks in New York City, investing roughly $200 million in land purchases and in the design, construction and stewardship of parks.

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (www.msdf.org) is dedicated to improving the lives of children living in urban poverty around the world. With offices in Austin, Texas, and New Delhi, India, and Cape Town, South Africa, the Dell family foundation funds programs that foster high-quality public education and childhood health, and improve the economic stability of families living in poverty. The foundation has committed more than $650 million to global children's issues and community initiatives to date.