Two New Playgrounds for P.S. 176 and Bensonhurst Community

Today P.S. 176 students celebrated two new community playgrounds they helped design at the Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights school in Brooklyn. The new playground, created in partnership with Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative, will be available to the school’s 1100 students and families from the surrounding community.

Previously two mostly vacant schoolyards, the lots at P.S. 176 have been transformed into new $1 million community playgrounds, led by The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and a design team of students, teachers, parents, and members of the community.

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

P.S. 176 is located at 1225 Bay Ridge Avenue in Brooklyn. P.S. 176 has a diverse student body of more than 1100 pre-kindergarten-through-fifth grade students. TPL led a three-month participatory design process with students, community members, and staff from the Neighborhood Improvement Association to design the new playgrounds to better serve the needs of the children and the community.

“Our new schoolyard playgrounds are a wonderful addition to the Dyker Heights community,” said Principal Culkin. “Our children helped design both playgrounds, developed the ideas for our schoolyard mural design and, with the help of the mural design team and parents, did a great job painting the rain forest and ocean themes.”

The playgrounds also feature an artificial turf field, fitness equipment, play equipment, basketball and volleyball courts, toss and score, planting beds, trees, benches, gametables, and a drinking fountain.

“The first time our children saw the artificial turf field, they just sat on it, feeling the texture and gazing around the schoolyard,” added Culkin. “Suddenly, the children started to roll from one end of the field to the other end. All you could hear were belly laughs and giggles. When they got to the end of the field, they all looked at one another and said, ‘Let’s do it again.'”

The Principal plans for children to use the new schoolyards after-school, in the evening and on Saturdays through organized sports programs and hopes to host a Cinema Under the Stars program on Tuesday evenings in July. Families will be invited to come and watch family movies at dusk.

P.S. 176 also sponsors the popular Turkey Bowl, a Thanksgiving Day football tournament for the entire community. Each fall one of the lots was used for football practice, and now participating teams will use the new turf field. During the summer, Big Apple Games has offered programs in the lots for 300 nine-to-fifteen year olds. These programs will also continue, utilizing the turf field.

The playground at P.S. 176 was created in partnership with Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative and is the eighteenth of 28 community parks that TPL is designing and building as part of this program. When complete the parks will serve 380,000 New York City students and residents.

The playground was funded in part by The Starr Foundation. “The generosity of the Starr 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 Lee.

The Trust for Public Land has created 42 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.