New Community Schoolyard Opening at P.S. 111Q in Queens

Trust for Public Land, with support from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Rise Light & Power, announced today the opening of the newly renovated schoolyard at P.S. 111Q in Astoria. The new Jacob Blackwell Community Playground is part of our New York City Playgrounds Program where we aim to transform these asphalt spaces into vibrant city parks open to the community.

“This space will not only serve over 20,000 residents as a place for kids and families to get out and play, but this new schoolyard will also have an outdoor classroom space for learning,” said Mary Alice Lee, NYC Playgrounds Director for Trust for Public Land. “We are grateful for support from Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and former New York City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer to make this schoolyard a reality.”

“By including Green Infrastructure in this TPL playground renovation we are helping to reduce flooding in Astoria while also improving the health of the nearby East River,” said DEP Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala. “In a city as dense as New York our infrastructure must serve many purposes and this terrific play space is now also helping us become more resilient to our changing climate.”

“This new playground is filled with modern amenities that will bring hours and hours of fun to P.S. 111’s students and to all the residents of this community,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath have underlined the need to provide everyone in our borough and city with equitable access to top-quality recreational space. This new playground will help address that need and give students and residents a better chance to live healthier and more active lives.”

The schoolyard was designed using Trust for Public Land’s unique participatory design process where teachers and students contributed ideas and voted on the final plan. The updated schoolyard features a turf field, running track, play equipment, outdoor classroom, turf pod, garden, outdoor seating, and a water fountain.

The playground’s principal private supporter was Rise Light & Power, which funded a significant portion of the design process, including charettes with PS 111 students. Rise operates New York City’s largest power plant, Ravenswood Generating Station, just five blocks from PS 111. In July 2022, Rise released its Renewable Ravenswood plan, which proposes a suite of clean energy projects to replace the 1960s-era fossil fuel generators onsite.

“We are celebrating more than a playground – this project sends message of empowerment and possibility to the young people of Western Queens, giving them the kind of space they deserve in which to learn, grow, and create lasting memories,” said Wil Fisher, External Affairs Manager at Rise Light & Power. “As lead private sponsor, we thank Trust for Public Land for their leadership and congratulate all who helped fulfill this vision, including the NYC Department of Education, School Construction Authority, and Department of Environmental Protection; Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr., and the students of P.S. 111.”

The addition of green infrastructure to the playground, including the turf field and below ground storage, will capture more than 1 million gallons of stormwater that fall on it each year helping reduce runoff that can flood streets and overwhelm sewer systems, allowing untreated water to end up polluting New York City waterways.

This space will serve over 20,000 residents, 62% of whom are low-income, with four new access points to the playground.

For nearly 25 years, The Trust for Public Land has guided thousands of students and parents in school districts from coast to coast to make the most of their schoolyards. The Trust for Public Land has transformed more than 250 underused schoolyards nationwide into nature-rich parks designed to address inequities in education, health, and climate impacts. Every one of our green schoolyard transformations includes agreements between a school district and other local agencies to allow the community to use the space when school is closed.

According to research from The Trust for Public Land, open access to all public schoolyards during non-school hours would put a park within a 10-minute walk of more than 19.6 million people, including 5.2 million children, who currently lack access.

Since 1996, TPL’s NYC Playgrounds Program has helped design and build 226 school and community playgrounds across the five boroughs.

About Trust for Public Land

Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit