Ozone Park Gets New School and Community Playground (NYC)

OZONE PARK, QUEENS, N.Y., 10/7/2009: Today students celebrated the new community playground they helped design at The Elizabeth Blackwell M.S. 210 at 93-11 101st Avenue in Ozone Park, Queens. The new playground will be available to the school’s thousands of students and to families from the surrounding community.

The mostly vacant schoolyard at M.S. 210 has been transformed into a new $1 million community playground with help from The Trust for Public Land (TPL), community sponsor Cross Island YMCA Beacon, 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, an artificial turf field and running track, and a large mural, and includes trees, benches, game tables, a drinking fountain, garden, basketball courts, and bleachers. TPL also removed a fence, which expanded the play space by more than 30 percent.

M.S. 210 is a diverse, overcrowded sixth through eighth grade school with more than 2,000 students. TPL led a three-month participatory design process with students, community members, and Cross Island YMCA Beacon staff 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. And the field, track, and courts at the new playground will provide children and adults with an engaging new place to exercise, an important element to healthy living.

“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 fifteenth of 28 community parks that TPL is designing and building as part of this program.

“The unique learning experience has provided the neighborhood with a wonderful, multi-purpose recreational space,” said Rosalyn Allman-Manning, principal, The Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School. “The creativity and energy of our students combined with the expertise of design engineers, architects, and art teachers, leaves a legacy for our entire school community.”

“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 39 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.