The Trust for Public Land, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Council Member Fernando Cabrera, Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, Fordham University President Joseph M. McShane, S.J., and the Department of Environmental Protection joined a highly diverse student body, teachers, and families to break ground on a new, green playground at P.S. 306 / M.S. 331 in Tremont, Bronx.
Scheduled to open in Fall 2024, the $2.2 million playground was designed by students from elementary school P.S. 306 and middle school M.S. 331, to reflect their neighborhood’s unique identity, culture, and character. The student-chosen playground features include a full basketball court, a volleyball court, an outdoor classroom, game tables, a gazebo, play equipment for younger children, fitness equipment for older students and community members, benches, a running track, and a turf field for soccer and football.
“Parks improve the general health and well-being of the communities they serve, which is why The Trust for Public Land is committed to ensuring that everyone, no matter where they live in New York, has access to a public park within a 10-minute walk of home,” said Carter Strickland, VP of the Mid-Atlantic Region and New York State Director for the Trust for Public Land. “Once complete, this playground will bring more than 42,000 Tremont residents of all ages within a ten minute walk of the park, giving them a chance to connect, exercise, and have fun together.”
The new P.S. 306 / M.S. 331 playground, formerly plagued with sinkholes that periodically became lakes during rainstorms, will also feature green infrastructure elements such as shade trees, plantings, permeable pavers, and a synthetic turf field that will allow the playground to capture 2 million gallons of rainwater a year. These features will better manage stormwater runoff that can flood streets and overwhelm sewer systems, as well as reduce sewer overflows and protect the Harlem River watershed.
“Proper outdoor space at our schools is vital and plays a crucial role in supporting the physical and mental health of our children,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. “This new, student-designed, green schoolyard at M.S. 331 / P.S. 306 is a great collaboration that will provide a much-needed space for our youth in the Tremont section of the Bronx. I am happy to have contributed funding to such an invaluable resource for the Bronx.”
The M.S. 331 / P.S. 306 playground will be built by The Trust for Public, in partnership with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), The School Construction Authority and the Department of Education. In addition to serving students, once completed, the new schoolyard will reopen to the public during after school hours between 08:00 a.m. and dusk when school programs are not in session, providing opportunities for both children and adults to enjoy a place for exercise, relaxation, and socializing with neighbors.
The groundbreaking ceremony included remarks from Trust for Public Land and DEP representatives, elected borough officials, and honored guest Father Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President of Fordham University, whose Center for Educational Partnerships at the Graduate School of Education has been a longtime presence at the school and tireless advocate for the badly needed renovation over many years.
“Fordham’s Community School staff is dedicated to providing services and support to all members of the Bronx School of Young Leaders community: thereby enabling all students to learn and achieve at higher levels. Jesuit education is steeped in the notion of ‘cura personalis,’ or care for the entire person as an individual endowed with particular gifts and insights. So too is our work. The new student-designed schoolyard, where students will exercise their bodies, stimulate their minds, and rejuvenate their spirits, is a perfect embodiment of that ethos,” said Associate Dean Anita Vazquez Batisti, Ph.D., Fordham University Graduate School of Education.
Since 1996, working with the City, The Trust for Public Land’s work on New York City playgrounds has designed and/or built more than 200 school and community playgrounds across the five boroughs. Overall, The Trust for Public Land in New York City has added more than 160 acres of additional playground space across the five boroughs, serving more than 4.5 million people who live within a 10-minute walk of one of the sites.
The Trust for Public Land New York City Playground Program employs participatory design principles, involving students to help them gain valuable knowledge and life skills like budgeting, negotiation, and planning. In addition to being a fun, recreational space, the playground will function as an outdoor classroom for students to explore nature, learn about environmental science, and take part in physical education and after-school activities.
Green infrastructure design elements are a hallmark of The Trust for Public Land’s playground work. These features help to improve New York City’s resistance to major storms by reducing storm water 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 similar playgrounds are being designed in the Flushing and Jamaica Bay watersheds.The P.S. 306 / M.S. 331 playground is made possible through a partnership with the New York City Department of Education, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and the New York City School Construction Authority, as well as through funding from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Council Member Fernando Cabrera, and the DEP.
“DEP is proud to join with The Trust for Public Land, elected officials and the school communities of M.S. 331 / P.S. 306 to celebrate the groundbreaking of this environmentally-friendly playground. The green infrastructure elements will be designed to absorb an estimated 2 million gallons of stormwater annually, which will significantly reduce neighborhood flooding and help prevent untreated water from entering the Harlem River,” DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said. “To date, DEP has constructed 23 projects with The Trust for Public Land and we are excited to have another 40 in development. We look forward to many more groundbreakings to come.”
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. Millions of people live within a 10-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, please visit here.
About New York City DEP
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 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.
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About the Center for Educational Partnerships at Fordham University
The Center for Educational Partnerships is the “outreach arm” of Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education, providing programs and services that touch the lives of over 500,000 public and nonpublic school students grades (pre-k to 12), thousands of teachers and hundreds of administrators and parents throughout New York City and the greater metropolitan area. The Center is dedicated to applying “cutting edge” research based practices that enable all children to achieve and succeed academically.