Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

May 23, 2019

New York State Announces Opening of Vital Brooklyn Community Playground in Crown Heights

$2 Million M.S. 354 & KIPP AMP Schools 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 grand opening of the new student-designed M.S. 354 The School of Integrated Learning, KIPP AMP Academy Middle School, and KIPP AMP Elementary Schools community playground in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The $2 million playground is part of Governor Cuomo's "Vital Brooklyn" initiative, a community development program bringing necessary resources to underserved neighborhoods in Central Brooklyn, and will provide 32,825 Crown Heights residents with green space within a 10-minute walk from home.

"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 this comprehensive effort, as they draw young families to parks and green space, and inspire children to enjoy outdoor recreation throughout their lives."

"We are transforming neighborhoods 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 communities and provide children with recreational opportunities. The opening of this playground in Crown Heights continues our development efforts in Central Brooklyn, growing the economy and enhancing quality of life for children and families."

Vital Brooklyn is providing $10.6 million to transform eight asphalt schoolyards into dynamic playgrounds and community gathering spaces, adding new recreational opportunities throughout Central Brooklyn. The M.S. 354 & KIPP AMP Academy Middle and Elementary Schools playground is the third completed playground under the initiative. Students led the process of designing the playground, which features trees, a turf field, pervious pavers, and green infrastructure elements. The Trust for Public Land involves students in playground design to teach valuable lessons and life skills such as budgeting, negotiation and environmental science.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's "Vital Brooklyn" initiative, launched in 2017, targets some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in New York State, including Bushwick, Bedford Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Canarsie, East New York, East Flatbush, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Cypress Hills/Ocean Hill, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Focusing on these 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.

"Governor Cuomo knows that parks, playgrounds, and green spaces improve the quality of life of everyone in New York City," said Erik Kulleseid, Acting Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. "New York State Parks is thrilled to work on the Vital Brooklyn initiative to provide every Brooklyn resident with a great, easily accessible, state-of-the-art park. I thank our partners in advancing this critical initiative."

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

"The Trust for Public Land has worked hard on its initiative to bring great green space into communities without park access," said Carter Strickland, New York State Director for the Trust for Public Land. "Parks are important spaces for exercise, recreation, and community building, and this playground will improve the well-being of the entire Crown Heights community. We look forward to providing even more vital green spaces in Central Brooklyn in partnership with Governor Cuomo's 'Vital Brooklyn' initiative."

"We're proud to partner with the Trust for Public Land and Governor Cuomo's "Vital Brooklyn" initiative to help young students' creative park designs become a reality," said Brett Yormark, Chief Executive Officer of BSE Global, which manages and controls the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center. "It has always been a priority of ours to positively impact our surrounding community, and we hope this playground will motivate local residents to stay active, and provide a safe place for them to have fun."

Senator Velmanette Montgomery said, "Parks are the center point of our communities, bringing together families and allowing residents from around the neighborhood to enjoy green space. I am so pleased to see yet another new playground open in Brooklyn as part of the Governor's "Vital Brooklyn" initiative. The students of M.S. 354 and KIPP AMP, and the community have worked tirelessly to bring this project to life, and applaud all those who had a hand in making this terrific playground possible."

Assembly Member Tremain Wright said, "This is another victory for Central Brooklyn which supports our efforts to ensure that our community thrives and has access to safe and environmentally friendly recreational space. Our youth and the M.S. 354 and KIPP AMP Academy Middle and Elementary Schools' community will have a playground that they not only get to call their own but also have pride in designing. Thank you to the Department of Education, the Department of Environmental Protection, the School Construction Authority, the Brooklyn Nets, the Barclays Center, the New York State Parks and Governor Cuomo for your collective leadership and commitment to schools, wellness and community-based economic development in Central Brooklyn."

New York City Council Member Robert Cornegy Jr. said, "Access to open and green space is a critical component to promoting the health and well-being of any community. This new playground will benefit not only the youngsters who got to be involved in its design and those who will use it daily, but the Crown Heights community as a whole. I thank Governor Cuomo for his commitment to Central Brooklyn communities and look forward to continuing to support the full implementation of the 'Vital Brooklyn' initiative in the weeks and months ahead."

The M.S. 354 & KIPP AMP Academy Middle and Elementary Schools playground was built through 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 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 new M.S. 354 & KIPP AMP Academy Middle and Elementary Schools playground can capture up to 1 million gallons of stormwater annually, which helps improve New York City's resistance to major storms.

The M.S. 354 & KIPP AMP Academy Middle and Elementary Schools playground is made possible through a partnership with New York State Parks, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Education, the School Construction Authority, the Brooklyn Nets, and the Barclays Center.

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.