New Playground for Bensonhurst Public School and Community (NYC)

BENSONHURST, BROOKLYN, N.Y., 6/16/2009: A new community playground designed by intermediary school students opened today at I.S. 227 at 6500 16th Avenue in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. The new playground will be available to the school’s 1,400 sixth-through-eighth grade students and to families from the surrounding community. A celebration planned for this evening at the playground will feature a student Step Team performance.

The lot at I.S. 227 has been transformed into a new $1 million community playground with help from The Trust for Public Land (TPL), community sponsor Neighborhood Improvement Association (NIA), and a design team comprised of I.S. 227’s students, teachers, parents, and members of the community. The playground, funded in part by Credit Suisse Foundation, includes a life-size chessboard, two handball courts, a full court basketball, a synthetic turf field and running track, garden beds, an outdoor classroom, painted maps and games, a gazebo, game tables, benches, and trees.

TPL led a three-month participatory design process with students, community members, and NIA staff to design the new playground to better serve the needs of the children and the community.

“The students were yearning for a place to play during recess and the community wanted a park. Today, their dreams became a reality,” said Andy Stone, director of TPL’s Parks for People-New York City program.

This playground was created in partnership with Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative and is the tenth of 28 community parks that TPL is designing and building as part of this program.

“Collaboration, community and creativity describe the process that our students were afforded by participating in this project,” said Brenda D. Champion, Shallow Intermediate School I.S. 227 Principal. “The learning experience provided the opportunity for students to design as well as present their vision of a new recreation area to the community. Not only will the Shallow family enjoy the facility, so will our neighbors. Our students with the assistance of the Neighborhood Improvement Association and The Trust for Public Land have left their mark for all to behold.”

The playground at I.S. 227 is one of five that have been sponsored by Credit Suisse, which contributed funds from the Credit Suisse Americas Foundation, but also rallied staff in support of the effort, ultimately resulting in nearly 4,000 employees contributing. The end result was a gift from Credit Suisse of $1.66 million to The Trust for Public Land to fund the five playgrounds, located in Harlem, Washington Heights, Hunt’s Point, Crown Heights, and Bensonhurst. Credit Suisse helped fund renovation of a sixth Brooklyn playground in 2006 and their total support to TPL is $2 million.

“We are proud both as individuals and as employees of Credit Suisse to be part of this extraordinarily successful partnership,” said Lewis Wirshba, Chief Administrative Officer for the Americas for Credit Suisse. “Our staff feels personally invested because they gave from their own resources and time to help make this happen.”

“The generosity of Credit Suisse Foundation and their employees enables thousands of children now to have a place close to home where they can exercise both mind and muscles,” said Stone.

The Trust for Public Land has created 36 community playgrounds throughout New York City. In partnership with the city’s PlaNYC initiative, TPL is working to transform 185 schoolyards into playgrounds by 2010. The Trust for Public Land conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. 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.