Brooklyn is getting more and more "playful." Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Monday the groundbreaking for a new student-designed playground at P.S. 377 Alejandrina Benitez DeGautier School in Bushwick.
The Trust for Public Land and New York State Parks officials joined local Brooklyn students, teacher and families for a ceremonial groundbreaking to mark the start of construction for the recreational facility.
The newly-announced $1.5-million-playground at 200 Woodbine Street is part of Cuomo's "Vital Brooklyn" initiative, a community revitalization program that aims to bring new healthcare, housing and recreational facilities to underserved areas in Central Brooklyn, and comes on the heels of a new Crown Heights playground which was just opened last week.
"Low-income communities of color such as Bushwick have historically been denied access to green space compared to other New York City communities," said Bushwick State Senator Julia Salazar. "This reality is accompanied by many other ways in which people of color are disenfranchised in our society. I am glad that Governor Cuomo and NYS Parks is taking action to rectify this injustice."
The new project, officials said, will provide 34,189 Bushwick residents with green space within a 10-minute walk of their homes.
"Not only are the playgrounds important community resources, but they are smartly designed with green ideals in mind," said Acting NY State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid. "Each Vital Brooklyn playground betters New York City, and I'm thrilled to see these vacant lots transformed into vibrant green spaces for New York residents."
Scheduled to open in Spring 2020, the playground design process was led by students, helping them gain valuable knowledge and life skills, such as budgeting and environmental science. The playground will feature ping-pong tables, basketball hoops and a multi-purpose field for volley- and softball. The park will also be furnished with trees, a turf pod, pervious pavers and other green infrastructure elements that can capture up to an inch of rainwater during storms.
The playground's green infrastructure will improve New York City's resistance to major storms, officials said. Storm runoff overwhelms the city's sewer system and dumps untreated water in rivers and bays. The playground at P.S. 377 will be able to capture up to an inch of rainwater during storms, preventing the water from funneling into the street and down storm drains.
"It's exciting to know that the community and especially the children of Bushwick will soon have a place to enjoy access to a safe green space for outdoor recreation, thanks to the Vital Brooklyn initiative," said Councilmember Rafael Espinal. "This is a well-deserved hub of activity for the students of P.S. 377 and for the neighborhood."