First Queens City Spaces Playground Dedicated (NYC)

Fresh Meadows, NY, 6/13/06: A public-private partnership that is building 25 playgrounds citywide dedicated its first Queens site today at M.S. 216 in Fresh Meadows. Representatives from The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the New York City Department of Education (DOE), and MetLife Foundation were joined by students, community members, and partners from the Samuel Field YM&YWHA.

The new park is a $1 million investment in the community through the City Spaces program of The Trust for Public Land made possible by lead private funding from MetLife Foundation and the Charles Hayden Foundation. The M.S. 216 playground is one of 25 community parks being created citywide through a partnership of TPL, the DOE, the School Construction Authority, community sponsors, and private donors. Two-thirds of the costs were covered by matching funds from the Department of Education.

A team of students, teachers, and parents met for three months to design the one-acre space. Today, they will celebrate the transformation of the cracked asphalt lot into a community park that includes a fitness area, a large ball field with surrounding running track, painted games and a U.S. map, a water fountain, trees, benches, an outdoor classroom, and a restored handball court.

The new park will serve the school’s 1,400 students as well as children and families in the surrounding community with programming provided through Samuel Field YM&YWHA, which operates the Beacon/TASC program at the school as well as after-school and weekend activities for approximately 400 youth annually. The playground will provide amenities for the school’s successful handball, basketball, and volleyball teams. There are also five schools within one mile of M.S. 216 that will benefit from the new playground.

“Our entire school community has eagerly awaited this opening day. Students, staff, parents, and community members have all been found looking through the schoolyard fence as construction has gone on throughout the school year. One of the greatest things about this project is that our students designed the playground to fit the needs of the entire Ryan Middle School community. The look on their faces as they watched their ideas transform from written plans to a state of the art playfield is priceless,” said Principal Reginald H. Landeau Jr.

“This investment ensures a safe place for the children of this community to run and play, to exercise both their minds and their muscles,” said Andy Stone, New York City Programs Director of The Trust for Public Land.

MetLife Foundation, the original supporter of TPL’s City Spaces Program in New York City, has contributed $2 million to support TPL’s open space work in nine cities nationwide.

“MetLife Foundation is committed to providing young people with safe places to learn and grow,” said Sibyl Jacobson, president of MetLife Foundation. “We are pleased to join TPL, the Department of Education, the School Construction Authority, the Charles Hayden Foundation and Samuel Field YM&YWHA in creating this new resource for the students of M.S. 216 and the surrounding community.

Through City Spaces, 15 community playgrounds have been built throughout New York City. One 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

MetLife Foundation, established by MetLife in 1976, supports health, education, civic, and cultural programs throughout the United States. For more information about the Foundation, visit