Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

September 17, 2018

New York State Announces Opening of Vital Brooklyn's First Student-Designed Playground

Within 10-Minute Walk from Homes of More than 30,000 East Flatbush Residents

Playground's Green Infrastructure Will Mitigate Flooding and Improve Health of Jamaica Bay

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the opening of a new student-designed community playground on the Winthrop School campus in Brooklyn. The playground features new play equipment, a multi-purpose field with running track, a full basketball court, gardens and planted areas, as well as shade trees and benches. The Winthrop School campus community playground is the first of eight schoolyards to be transformed into playgrounds under the second phase of the Governor's Vital Brooklyn initiative announced earlier this year. By 2020, the Vital Brooklyn initiative will transform eight schoolyards into playgrounds, renovate 22 community gardens, and improve four recreation centers in Central Brooklyn.

"The opening of the first student-designed playground marks a major milestone for the Vital Brooklyn initiative, bringing green space and new recreational opportunities to over 30,000 Brooklyn residents," Governor Cuomo said. "By improving access to outdoor activity and implementing innovative infrastructure throughout the park, we're putting the health and wellbeing of Brooklynites first, one park at a time."

"Our Vital Brooklyn initiative is focused on creating transformational change that will improve the health and wellness of the people of Central Brooklyn," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who attended today's event. "A central part of this effort is providing children with access to modern and safe spaces to play. This investment to improve playgrounds and recreational spaces across Central Brooklyn will ensure a better quality of life for this vibrant community."

Today, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey, opened the new playground located within a 10-minute walk for more than 30,000 East Flatbush residents. Commissioner Harvey was joined by community leaders and key partners including New York State Assemblyman, Nick Perry; New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner, Vincent Sapienza; The Trust for Public Land CEO, Diane Regas; New York Road Runners President & CEO Michael Capiraso and President of Events and Race Director Peter Ciaccia, I.S. 598 Principal, Jameela Horton-Ball, along with Winthrop School students and faculty.

Seven more Brooklyn schoolyards slated for transformation into playgrounds will be complete by 2020.

  • PS 213 The New Lots School: 580 Hegeman Avenue - Opening Fall 2018
  • PS 145: 100 Noll St. - Opening Summer 2019
  • PS 156 - IS 392: 104 Sutter Avenue - Opening Summer 2019
  • MS 354 - KIPP Academy: 1224 Park Place - Opening Fall 2019
  • PS/MS 377: Alejandrina B De Gautier - 200 Woodbine St. - Opening Summer 2020
  • PS 152/315 Midwood HS: 725 E 23rd St. - Opening Summer 2020
  • PS 115 Daniel Mucatel School: 1500 East 92nd St. - Opening Summer 2020

State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "Thank you Governor Cuomo and all of our partners for your continued dedication to improve and expand the outdoors. The opening of this new student designed playground is only the start to eventually providing access to open space within 10-minutes for all of the Brooklyn community"

Assemblyman Nick Perry, Chair, Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus said, "Governor Cuomo's Vital Brooklyn initiative has brought unprecedented change to our borough, introducing green space and access to outdoor recreation residents have never seen. The opening of this student-designed park marks the continued success of this initiative and brings hope to Brooklynites across the city that they're needs are being met. I thank the Governor for his commitment to our borough and for his ongoing support to keep Brooklyn residents healthy and happy."

New York City Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel said, "Governor Cuomo's Vital Brooklyn initiative has placed an emphasis on our community's health and wellness the likes of which we've never seen. Between providing greater access to healthy food, increasing the availability of healthcare, and bringing parks to neighborhoods across the borough, this program continues to show great promise by supporting residents who have long felt forgotten. I commend the Governor's ongoing commitment to our neighborhood and for providing residents with the care and attention they deserve."

Carter Strickland, The Trust for Public Land's New York State Director said, "We appreciate the opportunity to work with the Governor and the faculty and students at the Winthrop School to create this beautiful, new green playground, which brings thousands of Flatbush residents within a short 10-minute walk of the new park. The Vital Brooklyn initiative is an important step for the Central Brooklyn community and helps The Trust for Public Land, in partnership with the Department of Environmental Protection, continue our work to transform communities for the better."

New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said, "DEP is a proud partner of The Trust for Public Land's Playground Program, which is transforming asphalt playgrounds across the City into green spaces for the whole community. The new green infrastructure that has been installed at this playground will help to reduce stormwater runoff, improve the health of the surrounding waterways, and beautify the neighborhood."

Michael Schnall, Vice President of Government Relations & Community Investment at New York Road Runners said, "We are thrilled to be back at the Winthrop School campus to celebrate the opening of this amazing new space that will be enjoyed by the Rising New York Road Runners here on campus, as well as the entire East Flatbush community. Just months ago, we joined our local elected officials and city agencies in celebrating Governor Cuomo's Vital Brooklyn initiative by breaking ground, and with today's opening we celebrate the improved access for students and families to run and play, in a beautiful, safe outdoor space."

Governor Cuomo's $1.4 billion Vital Brooklyn initiative seeks to transform the Central Brooklyn region by identifying and investing in eight integrated areas that will help to establish a national paradigm for addressing chronic disparities, such as systemic violence and entrenched poverty in high-need communities. The comprehensive plan targets increased access to open spaces and recreation which includes the opening of the new 407-acre state park named in honor of Shirley Chisholm, a Brooklyn-born trailblazer who was the first African American Congresswoman, as well as the first woman and African American to run for President. $10.6 million is also being provided to transform eight schoolyards into community playgrounds and open space, $3.1 million to transform nearly two dozen community gardens, and $1.8 million to enhance four recreation centers across Central Brooklyn.

Today's opening is also part of The Trust for Public Land's Playgrounds Program, which serves to create vibrant, educational, and fun playgrounds for New York City's schoolchildren. All The Trust for Public Land playgrounds include student participation in the design process, providing them with hands-on learning of the science, math, and architecture that goes into designing playgrounds, while giving them an opportunity to voice their thoughts on what is needed in their school's playground. Students at The Winthrop Campus, as well as parents and neighbors, got the chance to contribute to the playground design process. For more information on The Trust for Public Land, visit their website here.

Green infrastructure design elements, made possible in part through a partnership with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, are a hallmark of The Trust for Public Land's playground work. These features reduce stormwater runoff that can flood streets and overwhelm sewer systems, allowing untreated water to end up in rivers and bays. These infrastructure elements include a turf field designed to absorb stormwater, trees, pervious pavers, and other green infrastructure elements, which can capture up to an inch of rainwater during storm events, adding up to over one million gallons per year. The trees will also provide shade and improve air quality, making the city more resilient on hot summer days and promoting residents' health.