New Student-Designed “Green” Playground at PS 223Q in Queens Reduces Neighborhood Flooding and Improves the Health of Jamaica Bay

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Green Infrastructure will capture approximately 1.8 million gallons of stormwater annually; Schoolyard will serve more than 10,000 residents within a 10-minute walk; Photos available on DEP’s Flickr Page

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently joined with The Trust for Public Land and New York Road Runners (NYRR) to open a newly renovated “Green” schoolyard at PS 223Q, the Lyndon B. Johnson School, in South Jamaica, Queens. Green infrastructure elements incorporated in the playground’s construction will capture approximately 1.8 million gallons of stormwater each year, helping to improve the health of Jamaica Bay and reduce the risk of flooding for residents and businesses in the area. The schoolyard was funded in part through DEP’s Green Infrastructure program.

“For more than a decade DEP has been investing in “Green” strategies to divert stormwater from the sewer system in order to reduce neighborhood flooding and improve the health of local waterways,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “Thanks to the environmental stewards at PS 223 their new Green playground will capture nearly 2 million gallons of stormwater annually—which will in turn help to improve the quality of life in Southeast Queens.”

“Parks and playgrounds are essential for the mental and physical well-being of New Yorkers, and this project is a key part of our work to increase park equity and resiliency by increasing open space in neighborhoods that lag behind like Queens Community District 12, which has less than half the park space per person than city standards.” said Carter Strickland, VP of the Mid-Atlantic and New York State Director for The Trust for Public Land. “In addition to serving the entire community, this schoolyard has a new outdoor classroom so that students have the opportunity to safely study while connecting with classmates. We are grateful to DEP, NYRR, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, and Councilmember Adrienne Adams for their partnership in making this schoolyard a reality.”

The schoolyard was designed using The Trust for Public Land’s unique participatory design process with teachers and students and will include an artificial turf field, running track, basketball practice hoops, tennis courts, play equipment, new tree plantings, game tables and benches, a green-roof gazebo, a musical play area, a playhouse, and an outdoor classroom with turf pod. Green infrastructure elements like permeable pavers will capture 1.8 million gallons of stormwater each year, helping to reduce neighborhood flooding and improve the health of nearby Jamaica Bay. The schoolyard will be open to the community during non-school hours and will serve over 10,000 residents within a 10-minute walk of home. This new parkland serves a diverse population at the school, where 96 percent of students identify as Black, Hispanic, or Asian and 28.8 percent of families fall below the Federal Poverty Level, as well as in the surrounding area.

This area of Southeast Queens is low-lying, former wetlands, and is plagued by frequent flooding, including most recently during Hurricane Ida, which tragically caused deaths in the area. Green infrastructure that absorbs rain can contribute to the solution, and the community playground includes stormwater control elements made possible in part through DEP’s contribution of $775,000. 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. This schoolyard was funded in part through DEP’s Green Infrastructure program.

New York Road Runners has been partnering with The Trust for Public Land since 2016 to transform New York City community schoolyards into state-of-the-art, green, community playgrounds. Through its partnership with NYRR, the two organizations are pursuing a common goal of making New York City better today in order to promise a better tomorrow.

“Opening the newly renovated community schoolyard at P.S. 223Q and highlighting our partnership with The Trust for Public Land is a fantastic way to kick off the week leading into the 50th running of the TCS New York City Marathon,” said Erin Hempel, CEO of NYRR. “Together with The Trust for Public Land, we are striving to create a better tomorrow across the five boroughs of New York City; and we are thrilled to bring this new schoolyard to life today to positively impact this great community in Queens.”

This project would not have been possible without the support of local elected leaders.

“The P.S. 223Q schoolyard is a first-class, state-of-the-art recreational resource for Southeast Queens,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “This investment will better enable both schoolchildren and local residents to enjoy the outdoors and be physically active. The Queens Borough President’s Office was proud to allocate $1 million in capital funding to this project and work with the Department of Environmental Protection, the New York Road Runners, Council Member Adams and The Trust for Public Land.”

For nearly 25 years, The Trust for Public Land has guided thousands of students and parents to make the most of their schoolyards, putting over 215 community schoolyards where they are needed most. Under The Trust for Public Land’s NYC Park Equity Plan, TPL is planning to build 100 more in neighborhoods that have crowded parks; our data shows that communities of color have 33 percent less park space per capita in NYC.

Nationwide, the Trust for Public Land has transformed more than 300 underused schoolyards into nature-rich parks designed to address inequities in education, health, and climate impacts. Every one of our green schoolyard transformations includes agreements between a school district and other local agencies to allow the community to use the space when school is closed. According to new research from The Trust for Public Land, open access to all public schoolyards across the country during non-school hours would put a park within a 10-minute walk of more than 19.6 million people, including 5.2 million children, who currently lack access.

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 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. For more information, visit nyc.gov/dep, 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. 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, visit www.tpl.org.

About New York Road Runners (NYRR)

NYRR’s mission is to help and inspire people through running. Since 1958, New York Road Runners has grown from a local running club to the world’s premier community running organization. NYRR’s commitment to New York City’s five boroughs features races, virtual races, community events, free youth running initiatives and school programs, the NYRR RUNCENTER featuring the New Balance Run Hub, and training resources that provide hundreds of thousands of people each year with the motivation, know-how, and opportunity to Run for Life. NYRR’s premier event is the TCS New York City Marathon. Held annually on the first Sunday in November, the race features a wide population of runners, from the world’s top professional athletes to a vast range of competitive, recreational, and charity runners.

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