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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PR- 299-04
November 10, 2004

MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG, SCHOOLS CHANCELLOR JOEL I. KLEIN, CAROLINE KENNEDY AND THE TRUST FOR PUBLIC LAND ANNOUNCE $25 MILLION INITIATIVE TO BUILD NEW PLAYGROUNDS FOR NEW YORK CITY’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Trust for Public Land and Department of Education Commit $25 Million for 25 New Public School Playgrounds Across the City

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, Vice Chair of the Fund for Public Schools Caroline Kennedy, and Mid-Atlantic Regional Director of the Trust for Public Land Rose Harvey today announced a new partnership between the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) that will construct 25 new playgrounds at public schools across the City over the next five years.  The overall cost of this public-private partnership is $25 million, one-third of which will be raised through private fundraising efforts by TPL, and the remainder will be paid by DOE.  The playgrounds will be open to the general public after school is dismissed each day.  The announcement took place at Open Road Playground in the East Village in Manhattan, which was completed in 2001 as part of TPL’s City Spaces Program.  Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Klein, Ms. Kennedy and Ms. Harvey were joined at the announcement by Leslie Koch, Chief Executive Officer of the Fund for Public Schools, Bill Goldstein, the Chief Executive Officer of the School Construction Authority and students from East Side High School and P.S. 38.

"Having quality recreational space is an important part of our children’s overall education, health and physical well-being,” said Mayor Bloomberg.   “These new playgrounds will enhance the school day for children by providing a clean and safe place for recreation, while also making the surrounding neighborhoods more livable.  I would like to thank the Trust for Public Land for their commitment to creating playgrounds and improve our open spaces where it is needed most."

The 25 schools that will receive new playgrounds as a result of this initiative will be identified by TPL in consultation with the DOE. Schools will be identified as potential participants based first on need.  TPL’s efforts are focused on low-income, high-density neighborhoods, which are underserved in terms of open recreational space.  Additional selection criteria include the school’s need for new playground facilities, the availability of land near school buildings, the size of the school’s student body, and the possibility of a strong community partnership for design and stewardship of the parks.  The schools that have thus far been selected to participate in this initiative are P.S. 180 in Harlem and JHS 220 in Borough Park, Brooklyn.  Both will have new playgrounds in Fall of 2005.

"We are committed to building 25 new high quality playgrounds for schools whose students have gone without adequate outdoor play spaces for far too long,” said Chancellor Klein.  “Physical activity and constructive play not only promote a child’s health, strength and coordination, but also help in the development of social and cognitive skills.  All of the children in our schools should have access to a safe, fun place to play and exercise during and after school.  The Trust for Public Land’s generous contribution will help us achieve this goal."

"It is so important for urban communities like ours to ensure that our children have great school playgrounds for outdoor sports and activities,” said Caroline Kennedy.  “Through our partnership with the Trust for Public Land, 25 of our public schools will have the opportunity to work together with members of their surrounding communities to create new and innovative outdoor spaces for their schoolchildren."

"Students at New York City schools need and deserve spaces where they can stretch their minds and their muscles,” said Rose Harvey, Senior Vice President and Mid-Atlantic Regional Director for the Trust for Public Land.  “This bold step by the Department of Education is a systematic approach to meeting the need for safe, accessible places for our children to play."

TPL will manage the design and construction of the playgrounds as part of its City Spaces Program. Established in 1996, City Spaces creates new community playgrounds in City neighborhoods underserved in terms of recreational space. The program is dedicated to providing permanent, community-managed recreation spaces. City Spaces is a public-private partnership, involving the TPL, DOE and Parks & Recreation and local organizations.  TPL has already successfully created sixteen community playgrounds throughout New York City and Newark, N.J. 

As with all City Spaces projects, designs will provide children with a connection to nature by including elements such as a garden, an open field, or a rest area shaded by trees.  City Spaces projects use a participatory design process at each school that includes soliciting input from students, teachers, parents, and the larger community.  Students provide direct input and survey the school and local community to collect additional input.  Teachers will use classroom activities in a variety of subject areas to incorporate the playground project into the curriculum.  Following community sessions where the school and local communities are invited to comment on designs, students will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite design.  At the conclusion of the design process, the principal and Local Instructional Superintendent will have final approval of the design.  The new playgrounds created through this initiative will provide recreational opportunities for students and area residents.  Surrounding communities and organizations will partner with the TPL to provide educational and recreational activities at the playgrounds during non-school hours.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. The Parks for People Initiative of the Trust for Public Land works in cities across America to ensure that everyone-in particular every child-enjoys close-to-home access to a park, playground, or natural area. To accomplish this vision in New York City, the Trust for Public land works with communities to create and sustain parks, especially in the city’s neediest neighborhoods.  To date, TPL has created or protected 250 parks, gardens, and natural areas in New York City.  The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information visit www.tpl.org.







MEDIA CONTACT:


Edward Skyler / Robert Lawson   (212) 788-2958



GENERAL CONTACT:

Jerry Russo   (Department of Education)
(212) 374-5141

Susan Clark (Trust for Public Land)   (212) 677-7171


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