NYC Launches “Schoolyard to Playground” Initiative

New York, NY 7/2/2007: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced today that the City of New York will transform 290 schoolyards into vibrant community parks by 2010 with the help of The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing parks for people. This begins a $111 million investment from the Bloomberg Administration towards the improvement of schoolyards, which will significantly advance the mayor’s PlaNYC goal of having every New Yorker live within a 10-minute walk of a park or playground.

“Today marks the start of realizing a central goal of the PlaNYC agenda-making sure all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of a park or playground,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “I want to thank The Trust for Public Land-through their Parks for People program, they are a great partner in building and preserving open space across the city.”

Today, 69 existing playgrounds on schoolyard sites were opened to the public. Through this partnership, more than two hundred additional schoolyards will receive much-needed renovations and upgrades including the transformation of many barren asphalt lots into safe, accessible community gathering spaces. The Trust for Public Land will develop 30 schoolyards into model community parks through a kid-led design process and extensive community partnerships. Another 161 sites will receive participatory design oversight by TPL for the construction of new playgrounds. TPL will raise $8.5 million toward the cost of creating these community resources.

“The mayor’s schoolyard initiative will build and open to communities more than 290 parks and playgrounds where there were none before-it is the most ambitious program of its kind in the country and we are pleased to be the city’s partner,” said Rose Harvey, senior vice president for The Trust or Public Land. “These playgrounds will be designed with, by, and for community members-a process that will help build an investment in the future stewardship of these sites.”

The announcement took place at I.S. 220 Community Park in Borough Park, Brooklyn, a playground completed by The Trust for Public Land in May of this year. The Trust for Public Land has already built 22 community playgrounds in neighborhoods of park need in partnership with the city’s Department of Parks/Recreation, Department of Education, and the School Construction Authority.

That track record and existing partnerships were a catalyst for the mayor’s schoolyard initiative in PlaNYC.

TPL is dedicated to providing permanent, community-managed recreation spaces. An extensive participatory design process involving students, teachers, parents, and the larger community is the foundation of this program.

“The opening of the 69 school playgrounds is a great example of the city making maximum use of its recreational amenities so that kids can have fun and stay fit,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.

“PlaNYC will make a real difference in the health and happiness of the city’s children and of the communities in which they live, and the DOE is proud to be part of it,” said Chancellor Joel Klein.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. The Parks for People Initiative of The Trust for Public Land works in cities across America to ensure that everyone-in particular every child-enjoys close-to-home access to a park, playground, or natural area. In New York City, TPL has created or protected 250 parks, gardens, and natural areas. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission.