June 23, 2023
NYC Parks, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and NYCEDC today announced the completion of newly renovated tennis courts at Jackie Robinson Park in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Newly installed green infrastructure by DEP manages all the stormwater that falls on the tennis courts, which in turn helps protect the health of Newtown Creek. The newly painted, vibrant purple and blue courts have been completely upgraded with new surfacing and nets.
“This million dollar investment for Jackie Robinson Park Playground has multiple benefits for the community as it will help to reduce neighborhood flooding, improve the health of Newtown Creek, and of course provide a terrific facility for tennis and other activities,” said DEP Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala. “Thank you to our partners at NYC Parks and EDC, and thank you to the community for your patience as we completed these important upgrades to your local park.”
“I’m thrilled we were able to work with our sister agencies and partners on renovating the Jackie Robinson Park Playground tennis courts, complete with brand new green infrastructure and a mesmerizing new purple and blue sports coating,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “This is yet again a tremendous example of interagency collaboration working for the benefit of New Yorkers, and I’d like to thank DEP and NYCEDC for all of their work on the project. We hope the entire Bed-Stuy community comes out to play and enjoy these new courts this summer and beyond.”
“We are proud to partner with NYC Parks and DEP to deliver these much-needed upgrades to the Jackie Robinson Tennis Courts,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President & CEO Andrew Kimball. “The newly renovated park is an important public space for the Bed-Stuy and Brownsville communities and will be opening just in time for the summer for all to enjoy.”
“The newly renovated tennis courts at Jackie Robinson Park Playground are a shining example of thoughtful problem-solving and community leadership. Neighborhood advocates made their needs heard and various City agencies worked together in tandem to produce a project whose results will shed recreational, safety, and environmental benefits on our community. I applaud all the hard work that went into these courts and encourage other neighborhoods to follow the example of innovation set in and by Bedford-Stuyvesant,” said City Council Member Chi Ossé.
“I grew up playing tennis all around Brooklyn and later coached at almost every club and organization. I was here when Coach Mario used to give lessons. Although the community has changed a lot, I want to keep his legacy alive by continuing to provide quality tennis lessons and programming on quality courts to the underserved in this community. These purple courts help us to stand out and help to bring some brightness to the Malcolm X Corridor,” said Frances Ferdinand, Director of HQTENNIS.
DEP funded the project, which is intended to keep all of the rain and snow that falls on the tennis courts out of the sewer system, where it could otherwise contribute to flooding and sewer overflows into nearby Newtown Creek. The central part of the work included the construction of a subsurface detention system that allows all of the stormwater that lands on the courts to be slowly absorbed into the ground below. Modeling shows that the new Green Infrastructure will keep nearly 1.2 million gallons of stormwater out of the sewer system each year. After the Green Infrastructure work was completed, the courts were resurfaced and color-sealed a vibrant purple and blue, at the request of the community. The work also included new nets and lining of the courts.
The tennis courts play host to a lively tennis community in Bed-Stuy, often led by Coach Frances and Tennis HQ with support from Friends of Jackie Robinson Park Playground. Both groups operate with support from Partnerships for Parks’ Catalyst Program, which is a long-term community engagement program working in historically underserved City parks. Catalyst helps build community around local parks, connecting people to the city’s green spaces and increasing their capacity to sustain parks as key components of resilient neighborhoods.
In 1954, the City of New York acquired this property, and the Board of Education assumed control over the site. The park opened in 1959 as the Public School 21 (Crispus Attucks School) Playground. In 1970, as the Board of Education looked to expand P.S. 21, Parks relinquished its control over P.S. 21 Playground. That same year, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) developed a new one-acre playground on the block, which later incorporated a portion of the old P.S. 21 Playground. In 1981, this playground was assigned to Parks. Parks, in turn, designated the property Jackie Robinson Park Playground to recognize the work of the local Jackie Robinson Development Corporation at the park. During a renovation of the park in 1988, the park’s large baseball field was replaced with four new tennis courts.
The playground honors former Dodger Jackie Robinson (1919-1972), the first African American Major League Baseball player. Robinson's athletic prowess became evident at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he became the first student to letter in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track. Robinson played professional football for the Los Angeles Bulldogs before serving in the army during World War II. After the war, Robinson played baseball in the Negro Leagues for the Kansas City Monarchs, where he caught the eye of Branch Rickey (1881-1965), general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Rickey signed Robinson on August 28, 1945 to join the Montreal Royals, the Dodger’s Triple-A affiliate in the International League. For two years, Robinson toiled in the minor leagues. On April 15, 1947, Robinson made history as the first Black person to play in a Major League baseball game, paving the way for generations of black athletes to compete in America's national pastime.
DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing approximately 1 billion gallons of high-quality drinking water each day to nearly 10 million residents, including 8.8 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 also protects the health and safety of New Yorkers by enforcing the Air and Noise Codes and asbestos rules. DEP has a robust capital program, with a planned $31.3 billion in investments over the next 10 years. For more information, visit nyc.gov/dep, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.
NYC Parks is the steward of more than 30,000 acres of land—14 percent of New York City—including more than 5,000 individual properties ranging from Coney Island Beach and Central Park to community gardens and Greenstreets. They operate more than 800 athletic fields and nearly 1,000 playgrounds, 1,800 basketball courts, 550 tennis courts, 65 public pools, 51 recreational facilities, 15 nature centers, 14 golf courses, and 14 miles of beaches. They care for 1,200 monuments and 23 historic house museums. They look after 600,000 street trees, and two million more in parks. They are New York City’s principal providers of recreational and athletic facilities and programs. They are home to free concerts, world-class sports events, and cultural festivals.