New Playground for South Ozone Park Public School and Community (NYC)

SOUTH OZONE PARK, QUEENS, N.Y., 11/5/2009: Today students celebrated the new community playground they helped design at P.S. 123 at 145-01 119th Avenue in South Ozone Park, Queens. The new playground will be available to the school’s hundreds of students and will be available to families from the surrounding community. It is the second Queens public school playground opened in the last month. M.S. 210 in Ozone Park opened October 7.

The mostly vacant schoolyard at P.S. 123 has been transformed into a new $1 million community playground with help from The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and a design team comprised of students, teachers, parents, and members of the community. The playground, funded in part by The Starr Foundation, features new play equipment, turf field, running track, basketball and volleyball courts, outdoor classroom, stage, raised garden beds, a gazebo, and a toss and score play structure. The playground has also been dedicated in memory of Margery Baird Hobbs, 11/17/26 – 1/17/03.

P.S. 123 is a diverse pre-K through fifth grade school with more than 600 students. TPL led a three-month participatory design process with students and community members to design the new playground to better serve the needs of the children and the community. The group had a high interest in including both art and environmental education elements. Prior to construction the cracked asphalt lot had a single basketball hoop and a play structure that was permanently locked up because it was dilapidated and unsafe for children to use.

“The students were yearning for a place to play during recess and the community wanted a park. Today, their dreams became a reality,” said Mary Alice Lee, director of TPL’s New York City Playground program.

This playground was created in partnership with Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative and is the sixteenth of 28 community parks that TPL is designing and building as part of this program. When complete the 28 parks will serve 380,000 New York City students and residents.

“The dream of this playground has now become the reality for the entire P.S. 123Q community,” said Principal Cynthia Sumay-Eaton.

“My mother would be so pleased to see this extraordinary playground as she loved the outdoors and all outdoor activities,” said Fritz Hobbs. “My sister, my brother, and I feel there is no better way to honor her memory than right here at PS 123.”

“The generosity of The Starr Foundation provides thousands of children with a place close to home where they can exercise both mind and muscles,” said Lee.

The Trust for Public Land has created 40 community playgrounds throughout New York City. In partnership with the city’s PlaNYC initiative, TPL is working to transform 151 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.