New Student-Designed "Green" Playground at P.S. 221 in Little Neck Improves the Health of Alley Creek and Little Neck Bay

October 21, 2019

Green Playground Captures 1 Million Gallons of Stormwater Each Year and brings 7,000 residents within a 10-minute walk of a park

Photos Available on DEP’s Flickr Page

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) joined Monday with The Trust for Public Land, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, City Council Member Barry Grodenchik, students, faculty and local families to celebrate the grand opening of a new student-designed green playground at P.S. 221 in Little Neck, Queens. The state-of-the-art $1.5 million playground will bring nearly 7,000 Little Neck residents within a 10-minute walk of a school playground. Newly installed green infrastructure, including a turf field and permeable pavers, will capture 1 million gallons of stormwater each year and help to improve the health of the nearby Alley Creek and Little Neck Bay.

Green infrastructure design elements, made possible in part through a partnership with DEP, 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. Each playground absorbs hundreds of thousands of gallons of water annually and includes new trees that bring shade and better air quality to their neighborhoods. Similar playgrounds are also being designed in the Bronx River and Flushing Bay watersheds.

“I’d like to congratulate The Trust for Public Land and the entire P.S. 221 community, particularly the student designers, for creating a beautiful and environmentally-friendly school playground,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “The green infrastructure elements installed in this amazing new play space will absorb nearly 1,000,000 gallons of stormwater annually and improve the health of Alley Creek and Little Neck Bay.”

“With this park, we are ensuring that all residents have access to a vibrant green space where they can exercise, play, learn, and meet with their neighbors,” said Carter Strickland, New York State Director for the Trust for Public Land. “The students of P.S. 221, guided by our educators at The Trust for Public Land, have designed a playground that will benefit both their school community and the health, wellness, and storm readiness of the Little Neck community at large.”

The new park was created in partnership with The Trust for Public Land’s Playgrounds Program, which serves to create vibrant, educational, and fun playgrounds for New York City’s schoolchildren. All 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, as well as parents and neighbors, got the chance to contribute to the playground design process. Transformed from a barren asphalt lot, the new playground includes trees, a turf field, running track, play equipment, game tables, and green infrastructure elements. It will be open to students during school hours and to the community from 2:35 p.m. until dusk on weekdays.

“This student-designed and environmentally-friendly playground will be a state-of-the-art resource for the entire Little Neck community,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “This playground will serve the recreational needs of Little Neck for decades to come and also capture significant amounts of stormwater, greatly reducing the stormwater runoff that can cause flooding. I commend the students from P.S. 221Q who worked so hard to make this great playground a reality.”

“When I first visited PS 221Q, the principal showed me the schoolyard, which was nothing but a sheet of asphalt. I told her there and then that the school should have a real playground and that I would work to make it happen,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik. “I am so pleased that a beautiful new playground is opening here at PS 221Q. I thank Queens Borough President Melinda Katz for joining me to provide funding for this magnificent project, and I am grateful to The Trust for Public Land, the School Construction Authority, and the Department of Environmental Protection for their efforts to bring this playground to fruition. The children of Eastern Queens deserve only the best, and that is exactly what this facility provides.”

The playground will also function as an outdoor classroom for students to explore nature, learn about environmental science, and take part in physical education and after-school activities. The design process provided an important learning opportunity for the student designers, allowing them to gain valuable life skills such as budgeting, negotiation, and planning.

The P.S. 221Q playground is made possible through a partnership with the NYC Department of Education, NYC Department of Environmental Protection, and NYC School Construction Authority, as well as funding allocated by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Council Member Barry Grodenchik.

The P.S. 221Q 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/or built more than 200 school and community playgrounds across the five boroughs. Overall, the program has added more than 160 acres of additional playground space to New York City that serves nearly 4 million people who live within a 10-minute walk of one of the sites.

About the New York City Department of Environmental Protection

DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing approximately 1 billion gallons of high-quality drinking water each day to more than 9.6 million residents, including 8.6 million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. DEP has a robust capital program, with a planned $20.1 billion in investments over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, visit, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

About The Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit