New Kid-Designed Bronx Playground Open (NYC)
Bronx, NY, 12/20/2006: Students at P.S. 246 in the Kingsbridge Heights section of the Bronx will cheer today as they celebrate the opening of a new community playground that they helped design. At today’s opening celebration, kindergarten through eighth-grade students will be joined by community members and representatives from The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the New York City Department of Education (DOE), Deutsche Bank, and Good Shepherd Services.
The project 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 Deutsche Bank and a two-to-one funding match by the DOE. 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.
“It is rare for kids to have such an opportunity to design such a project, but rarer still that they see their creative work lead to a completed product of this magnitude,” said Rose Harvey, senior vice president of The Trust for Public Land.
P.S. 246 is in a building originally built as a home for the blind. There is no room for a gymnasium or auditorium at the school. Until now, the only place to play or hold a large gathering has been the one-acre cracked asphalt lot in the back of the school. Now that space has been transformed to a vibrant space for gathering, play, and exercise.
A team of students, teachers, and parents met from January through April to design the park. The result of their work is a community park that includes courts for volleyball, tennis, and basketball; a running track; synthetic turf field; fitness and play equipment; trees; and benches. In November, students worked alongside volunteers from Deutsche Bank to plant bulbs and mums in the unique serpentine garden beds and to paint a teamwork mural on the school walls that border the playground.
“The entire P.S. 246 community is so appreciative of the fact that just one year after our first contact with The Trust for Public Land, and just six months after the construction crew broke ground on the project, our students are now able to enjoy a wide range of recreational activities in a functional and beautiful space-a space that our own students helped design,” said Beverly Miller, principal of P.S. 246.
“Every New York City’s public school student deserves access to a great school playground,” said Stephanie Dua, CEO of the Fund for Public Schools. “Through the Department of Education’s partnership with The Trust for Public Land, many more schools will have the opportunity to create clean and safe spaces for children to play. We are particularly grateful that Deutsche Bank’s support has helped make today’s opening of the P.S. 246 playground a reality.”
The new park will serve the school’s 875 students as well as children and families in the surrounding community. More than 6,000 children under 18 live within a quarter-mile of the school. Many programs will be coordinated through the community sponsor, Good Shepherd Services.
“Good Shepherd’s after-school programs are committed to providing a safe and stimulating space for youth when school is not in session and to promoting their healthy development. We are thrilled that this new playground will support our goals and expand the opportunities we can provide our participants,” said Sister Paulette LoMonaco, executive director of Good Shepherd Services.
Deutsche Bank and its employees have generously contributed $333,000 to cover one-third of the cost of the playground, which was then matched two-to-one by the NYC Department of Education. The company is sponsoring the playground through a number of sources: the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, the Global Marketing business unit, the Global Banking business unit, individual employees, and the Deutsche Bank matching gifts program. In June, the company hosted students from the design team who came into their Manhattan office to describe their plans for the playground. Deutsche Bank volunteers also worked with students and community members last month to paint a mural and garden at the community park.
“Raising the funds to support the playground was very much a team effort which brought together employees from throughout Deutsche Bank. Having great and professional partners like Trust for Public Land and the students and teachers of PS 246 made the experience thoroughly enjoyable for all our people,” said Gary Hattem, president of Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation.
The playground is the seventh done under the TPL-DOE partnership. Construction is underway at another five schools. This fall, students 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 www.tpl.org/nyc.