New Playground for Crown Heights Public School and Community

CROWN HEIGHTS, BROOKLYN, N.Y. 6/16/2009: Today students celebrated the new community playground they helped design at P.S. 221 at 791 Empire Boulevard in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The new playground will be available to the school’s 650 pre-kindergarten-through-fifth grade students and to families from the surrounding community.

The lot at P.S. 221 has been transformed into a new $1 million community playground with help from The Trust for Public Land (TPL), community sponsor Friends of Crown Heights, and a design team comprised of P.S. 221’s students, teachers, parents, and members of the community. The playground, funded in part by Credit Suisse Foundation, includes a multi-purpose field, separate play equipment for 2-5 year olds and 5-12 year olds, multi-purpose courts, planting beds, running track game tables, benches, and trees.

TPL led a three-month participatory design process with students, community members, and Friends of Crown Heights 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 eleventh of 28 community parks that TPL is designing and building as part of this program.

The playground at P.S. 221 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, Bensonhurst, and Crown Heights. 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 37 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.