Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

May 17, 2019

New York State Announces Groundbreaking for Vital Brooklyn Community Playground in Bushwick

$1.5 Million P.S 377 Playground is Part of Governor Cuomo's "Vital Brooklyn" Community Development Initiative in Central Brooklyn

Supports State's "Health Across All Policies" Initiative

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the groundbreaking for a new student-designed community playground at P.S. 377 Alejandrina Benitez DeGautier School at 200 Woodbine Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The $1.5 million playground is part of Governor Cuomo's "Vital Brooklyn" initiative, a community development program bringing necessary resources to underserved neighborhoods in Central Brooklyn, that will provide 34,189 Bushwick residents with green space within a 10-minute walk of their homes.

"Through the Vital Brooklyn initiative, we have made important strides in improving access to green space and helping reverse the chronic social, economic and health disparities in Central Brooklyn," Governor Cuomo said. "Playgrounds are a critical component of that aggressive effort, as they are a magnet that draw young families to parks and inspire children to enjoy outdoor recreation throughout their lives."

"We are charting a new course, improving quality-of-life, and transforming Brooklyn for the future with The Vital Brooklyn initiative," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Modern, safe, and accessible playgrounds are a central part of our efforts to improve Brooklyn neighborhoods and provide children with recreational opportunities. This project continues our development efforts in the area, growing the economy and enhancing quality of life for children and families."

Governor Cuomo's "Vital Brooklyn" initiative, launched in 2017, targets some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in New York State. Focusing on Central Brooklyn communities, the initiative addresses a critical need for green space 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, New York Road Runners and New York State Parks officials joined local Brooklyn students, teachers, and families for a ceremonial groundbreaking to mark the start of construction for the student-designed playground at P.S. 377 Alejandrina B. De Gautier School on Tuesday. Scheduled to open in Spring 2020, the playground will include trees, a turf pod, pervious pavers and other green infrastructure elements that can capture up to an inch of rainwater during storms. The playground design was led by students, helping them gain valuable knowledge and life skills, including budgeting, negotiation and environmental science.

Acting State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "Not only are the playgrounds important community resources, but they are smartly designed with green ideals in mind. 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. I thank our partners at The Trust for Public Land, New York Road Runners and New York City schools for advancing this critical initiative."

Carter Strickland, New York State Director for The Trust for Public Land, said, "Every Brooklyn and greater New York resident deserves access to a well-maintained green space within a 10-minute walk of home. Parks improve the well-being of entire communities, providing important spaces for exercise, recreation, and community-building. Working with the State to advance Governor Cuomo's pioneering program, we look forward to providing more vital green spaces in Central Brooklyn."

Michael Capiraso, President and CEO of the New York Road Runners, said, "New York Road Runners is proud to partner with The Trust for Public Land on this playground groundbreaking at P.S. 377, to provide an outdoor space for the youth in our free Rising New York Road Runners program to run and play. We have worked with the Trust for Public Land since 2016 to develop playgrounds in all five boroughs, because everyone should have access to a beautiful, safe community park."

Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez said, "Playgrounds, parks and green spaces are a critical part of communities that encourage children to explore and play. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, we are opening more and more playgrounds in Central Brooklyn, creating healthier communities for all our families, friends, and neighbors through Vital Brooklyn's holistic approach. I look forward to the opening of this new playground that will truly beautify the neighborhood."

Senator Julia Salazar said, "Low-income communities of color such as Bushwick have historically been denied access to green space compared to other New York City communities. 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 and I look forward to working with them to pursue comprehensive equity for New York State's marginalized communities."

Assembly Member Erik M. Dilan said, "Bushwick children need all the green space they can get. I am proud to have worked with Governor Cuomo on Vital Brooklyn to provide a new playground for the students of P.S. 377 and the community."

Assembly Member Maritza Davila said, "Parks and open spaces are critical for our youth to develop in to healthy young adults. I applaud Governor Cuomo and the Vital Brooklyn initiative for bringing this much needed playground to our community residents of Bushwick."

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams said, "Access to greenspace is a critical factor that helps neighborhoods thrive, but far too many low-income communities don't have a local garden or playground within walking distance. That has to change. I am proud to partner with the Vital Brooklyn Initiative to expand these resources throughout Brooklyn, and to ensure we are investing in the future of our borough and our city. We should also explore the possibility of using existing assets to expand urban agriculture opportunities. I look forward to working with Governor Cuomo to continue building a healthier, more prosperous Brooklyn for all residents."

New York City Councilmember Rafael Espinal, Jr. said, "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. This is a well-deserved hub of activity for the students of P.S. 377 and for the neighborhood."

The P.S. 377 playground will be built with assistance from The Trust for Public Land's NYC Playgrounds Program. Since 1996, working with the City, The Trust for Public Land's NYC Playgrounds Program has designed and/or built more than 200 school and community playgrounds across the five boroughs. In addition to serving students, all playgrounds in New York City are open to the public on weekends, after school, and during school breaks, providing opportunities for both children and adults to be physically active. The program has added more than 160 acres of additional playground space serving the nearly 4 million people who live within a 10-minute walk of one of the sites.

The Trust for Public Land's parks employ green infrastructure elements such as pervious pavers and specifically chosen plantings and trees. Building parks with green infrastructure in mind helps improve New York City's resistance to major storms.

Storm runoff overwhelms New York City's sewer system, and dumps untreated water in rivers and bays, hurting the environment. 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. Furthermore, the trees planted will provide benefits to New York City's climate, bringing shade in the midst of the concrete street grid and improving air quality.

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. In addition, $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.

Vital Brooklyn supports Governor Cuomo's "Health Across All Policies/Age-Friendly NY" Executive Order, which directs state agencies to incorporate the principles of age- and health-friendly communities into all relevant programs and policies. In particular, Vital Brooklyn supports access to healthy food, safe and clean outdoor public space, and expands opportunities for outdoor recreation.

The P.S. 377 playground is made possible through a partnership with the Vital Brooklyn initiative, the Department of Education, the School Construction Authority, New York Road Runners and The Trust for Public Land.