Bronx’s C.S. 66 Playground Dedicated (NYC)
Bronx, NY, 6/6/06: Students at C.S. 66 in the Bronx are the proud designers of a new playground that will be dedicated this morning. From February through April of this year, fourth, fifth, and eighth grade students met weekly as a participatory design team and today they will cut the ribbon, dedicating the new one-acre playground they designed not only for their school but for the surrounding community.
The work at C.S. 66 is part of a total makeover of the school’s exterior. TPL staff worked with students to build planting beds and a brick path, and to plant bushes and flowers at the school’s front entrance, where each grade now has a garden bed. A mural was painted across the front of the school and another is planned in the back to complement the new playground.
The new park is a $1 million investment in the community through the City Spaces program of The Trust for Public Land (TPL). The C.S. 66 playground is one of 25 community parks being created citywide through a partnership of The Trust for Public Land, the New York City Department of Education (DOE), the School Construction Authority, and community sponsors.
Lead private funding for this project was provided by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation. The remainder came from matching funds from the Department of Education.
“From the day C.S. 66 was selected to receive the playground, I have been envisioning what it will mean to the students and the community,” said Marilyn E. Smith, C.S. 66 principal. “The children now have a safe, active alternative to sitting to watch T.V. This is a great thing.”
The new park will serve the school’s 700 students as well as children and families in the surrounding community with programming provided through Phipps Community Development Corporation (Phipps CDC), the community sponsor.
“Nearly every type of play interest is represented here, precisely because the children and the community were asked what they wanted, and we delivered,” said Rose Harvey, senior vice president for The Trust for Public Land. “Children in the South Bronx suffer from some of the highest rates of asthma in the city and possibly the nation, and these kids need a safe place where they can sit under a tree, play, and learn, which is what we have given them.”
The playground transformed a cracked asphalt lot behind the school that had been used to house garbage dumpsters in addition to serving as the children’s only play area. It now includes an artificial turf field, running track, play equipment, chess and picnic tables, trees, water fountain, play spray, benches, sound sculptures, a world map, and a double dutch jump rope area.
“This process was a wonderful example of an effective partnership between the Department of Education, parents, students, and Phipps CDC to address an important neighborhood need,” said Stephen Tosh, Executive Director and CEO of Phipps CDC.
“I am extremely pleased that Phipps was able to be involved in helping to bring about a much needed safe space for children and the community to play and relax in,” added Jennifer Hernandez, Program Director for Phipps CDC After-School T.E.A.M. program at C.S. 66.
“The Foundation is pleased to join in the rebuilding of New York City’s public schools and their recreational facilities,” said Richard L. Menschel, of The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.
“The effects of this playground will be measured for years to come in healthier and happier students,” said Stephen E. Walton, coordinator of student activities and coach of the varsity basketball team. “In addition to basketball, we are projected to have track, flag football, and soccer teams next year. These athletics are just the type of extra curricular activities that will motivate students to come to school and stay physically fit.”
Through City Spaces, 14 community playgrounds have been built throughout New York City. Two more will be dedicated this month and construction is underway at three additional schools.
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization that conserves land for people to improve the quality of life in our communities and to protect our natural and historic resources for future generations. The City Spaces program targets New York City neighborhoods least served by the current park system. For each $1 million playground, funding is raised by TPL from private donors, foundations, and corporations, and is matched two-to one by the DOE. 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. For more information, visit www.tpl.org/nyc.
Phipps Community Development Corporation (Phipps CDC) is the nonprofit affiliate of Phipps Houses. It provides a comprehensive network of educational, vocational and community development services to neighborhoods where Phipps’ housing is located. Phipps CDC operates Head Start, extensive after-school, GED & ESL, college prep, job readiness and summer camp programs. These services are funded by government grants and contributions from foundations, corporations and individuals. For more information, visit www.phippshouses.org.