New East Harlem Playground Now Open (NYC)

New York, NY, 9/20/2006: Students at Manhattan East/Academy of Environmental Science in East Harlem were joined today by community members and representatives from The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the New York City Department of Education (DOE), Harlem RBI and SCAN (Supportive Children’s Advocacy Network).

The new park is a $1 million investment in the community through the City Spaces program of The Trust for Public Land. The 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.

A team of seventh-, eighth-, and twelfth-grade students; teachers; and parents met last September through December to design the one-acre space. Prior to the construction of this playground, students had only a teacher parking lot in which to play. Today, they celebrate the transformation of the cracked asphalt lot into a community park that includes a basketball court, artificial turf field, running track, fitness and play equipment, outdoor classroom, picnic tables, trees, benches, and a stage.

“This new playground will be a beacon in the community. It will meet the very real needs for a safe place to play and exercise,” said Andy Stone, New York City Programs Director of The Trust for Public Land.

The new park will serve the school’s 900 students as well as children and families in the surrounding community with recreational programming provided through Harlem RBI and SCAN. There are nearly 3,000 children under the age of 18 within a quarter-mile of the school.

“Building this park is a wonderful idea. The organizations that have come together to build this park are clearly dedicated to improving the lives of children and our community. This park will replace asphalt and concrete with greenery and shade, and shows that our central goal is to invest in our children and provide them with a safe place to learn and play,” said David Grodsky, Academy of Environmental Science principal.

“Our entire school community is grateful to The Trust for Public Land, the New York City Department of Education, the New York City School Construction Authority, Harlem RBI, and SCAN New York for realizing one of our dreams in building our new park,” said Manhattan East Principal Lilian Sarro. “We now have a safe place where our students and the community can participate in extracurricular activities.”

“We are thrilled to have a safe, new, state-of-the art play space where children in our community can play and exercise, said Rich Berlin, executive director of Harlem RBI.

The Trust for Public Land has built 17 successful community parks throughout the city, including four under the recent partnership with the DOE. A playground at P.S. 274 in Bushwick, Brooklyn will be dedicated on October 3 and construction is underway at another six schools. This fall, students at three schools are working as members of participatory design teams for another three community playgrounds.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. 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