The Trust For Public Land and New York City Unveil State-Of-The-Art Green Infrastructure Playground In The Bronx

Asphalt lot transformed, green infrastructure will help reduce Bronx River pollution

June 25, 2015
New York

The Trust for Public Land and New York City today unveiled a state-of-the art-playground on a formerly cracked asphalt lot at The School of Science and Applied Learning, CS 300 in the Bronx's Tremont neighborhood.

Designed with help from the school's students and built in partnership with New York City, the 1.2-acre playground will include green infrastructure components to allow the space to capture up to 700,000 gallons of storm water runoff each year. CS 300 students will share their new yard with two middle schools and a District 75 School that serves special needs students, co-located in the building. The playground will also operate as a public open space after school on weekdays, and during weekends, holidays and school vacations.

"The children at CS 300 lack a real playground. Partnering with school officials and community residents, The Trust for Public Land conducted a participatory design process to engage students, parents, teachers, and neighborhood residents in designing playground improvements that would best address the needs and preferences of the school's students and families," said Mary Alice Lee, director of The Trust for Public Land's New York City Playgrounds Program. "Each of The Trust for Public Land's playgrounds is so special because they are designed by the users - the very students and neighbors who will be enjoying the park for years to come."

The playground is being funded through an innovative public-private partnership, with a private donation from MetLife Foundation, and public funding from former New York City Council Member Joel Rivera and the departments of Education and Environmental Protection and the School Construction Authority. Total cost is just over $1 million, including $730,000 for construction and $333,000 for design, community engagement and environmental education.

"Parks and playgrounds are vital components of livable communities," said Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. "We are pleased to partner with The Trust for Public Land and New York City on this project which, with its green elements, will enhance the health and well-being of Tremont residents for years to come."

Community participation is a cornerstone of The Trust for Public Land's NYC Playgrounds Program, and students spent three months helping plan the new playground. The Trust for Public Land worked closely with students from all four schools in the building: CS 300, MS 129, Kappa III and P 10, the District 75 school.

The new schoolyard features two separate basketball areas for multiple practice hoops - three hoops for middle school students and two for younger students and special needs students, including a lower hoop for the youngest children, a feature enthusiastically suggested by the school's physical education staff. It also includes a turf field, running track, bleachers, play equipment, safety mats, drinking fountain and a mural. CS 300's Principal, Venessa Singleton, contributed ideas for an outdoor classroom and garden to promote the teaching of earth sciences through hands-on learning.

Additionally, the playground features green infrastructure elements, such as bioswales, a rain garden and specialized plantings. That focus on green infrastructure is a hallmark of The Trust for Public Land's playground work. These features reduce storm runoff that can flood streets and overwhelm sewer systems, allowing untreated water to end up in rivers and bays. Each playground absorbs at least half a million gallons of water annually and includes 20-30 new trees that bring shade and better air quality to their neighborhoods. In New York, the group is planning similar playgrounds in the Jamaica Bay, Newtown Creek and Gowanus Canal watersheds.

Since 1996, The Trust for Public Land, working with the city, has helped transform more than 180 public schoolyards from asphalt lots to spaces which offer safe and durable play equipment, athletic facilities and gardens. The program has added more than 150 acres of additional playground space serving the nearly 3.3 million people who live within a half-mile of one of the sites. The need is critical in a city where 73 percent of low-income neighborhoods fail to meet the city's standard of 2.5 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents.

The Trust for Public Land has partnered with NYC DEP to build six other green infrastructure playgrounds:

  • PS 261K, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
  • JHS 218K, East New York, Brooklyn
  • PS 65K, Cypress Hills, Brooklyn
  • JHS 157Q, Rego Park, Queens
  • JHS 162K, Bushwick, Brooklyn
  • PS 111M The Adolph S. Ochs
  • School, Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan

The Trust for Public Land has done similar projects in other cities, including Philadelphia, Newark and San Francisco.