New Playground for Bronx P.S. 78, Eastchester Community

Today P.S. 78 students celebrated the new community playground they helped design in Eastchester. The new playground, created in partnership with Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative, will be available to the school’s 751 students and to families from the surrounding community. As the 28th playground developed in New York City by The Trust for Public Land (TPL) for PlaNYC, it completes TPL’s commitment to the program.

Previously a mostly vacant lot, the schoolyard at P.S. 78 has now been transformed into a new $1 million community playground, led by TPL and a design team of students, teachers, parents, and members of the community. The playground at P.S. 78 was created in partnership with Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC Schoolyards to Playgrounds initiative and is the last of 28 community parks that TPL had committed to design and build as part of this program. TPL’s new playgrounds will serve 380,000 New York City students and residents.

“The Eastchester neighborhood is underserved by parks and recreation space. Through our PlaNYC partnership with the City of New York, TPL provided a safe place to play for the students of P.S. 78 and their community,” said Mary Alice Lee, director of TPL’s New York City Playgrounds Program.

In addition, TPL has led participatory design for another 123 playgrounds that the city is building as part of the program. Prior to TPL’s commitment to PlaNYC, the organization had created 25 playgrounds at New York City public schools through a pilot program. With the success of the program the School Construction Authority was able to fund the creation of another playground at PS 164 in Brooklyn, scheduled to open in Spring 2012.

P.S 78, located at 1400 Needham Avenue, has more than 750 kindergarten-through-fifth grade students. TPL led a three-month participatory design process with students, community members, and staff from the BELL After-School Program, to design the new playground to better serve the needs of the children and the community.

“Words cannot express how excited we are with our new playground. It was truly a community effort,” said Claudina Skerritt, P.S. 78 Principal. “Special thanks to The Trust for Public Land and our own design team for a job well done.”

The playground features a turf field, running track, play equipment, trees, outdoor classroom, amphitheater, raised garden beds, benches, game tables, basketball practice court, playhouse, water fountain, and a mural designed and painted by the students.

“We are proud to have vastly increased the play spaces in New York City and thrilled for the 380,000 children who are immediately benefiting from these great new playgrounds,” said Will Rogers, TPL president. “We are grateful to New York City and Mayor Bloomberg for their visionary commitment to community playgrounds and we are delighted by the significant funding support we’ve secured over the past four years.”

“Through the Schoolyards to Playgrounds program, which has to date converted 165 underutilized sites into vibrant, community playgrounds, we are working to achieve the PlaNYC goal of ensuring all New Yorkers live within a ten minute walk of a park,” said David Bragdon, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. “These investments are not only helping to redefine accessible public space in the city, but The Trust for Public Land’s innovative approach to participatory design is reshaping how our children engage with their neighborhoods and schools.”

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.