As a classroom teacher, a couple of years ago in a high needs school, our school was considered a candidate for a city funded program – PlaNYC Schoolyards to Playgrounds program. Through Schoolyards to Playgrounds, the City is investing $95 million in funding for playground improvements to open 266 schoolyards as playgrounds in underserved neighborhoods. Sixty-nine playgrounds, which did not require improvements, were opened in the summer of 2007. Twelve playgrounds, which have been fully renovated, have opened by July 2009.
“Making sure that all city residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park or playground is an important goal of PlaNYC,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “To help us achieve that goal, we’ve identified public schoolyards in neighborhoods in all five boroughs that are most in need of open space. In total, these 266 schoolyards will provide nearly 200 acres of new recreation space within walking distance of nearly 400,000 children and their families.”
As a candidate, the school created a small committee of parents, teachers, and students to design the ideal playground for the neighborhood community. It was an inspirational process to see through the stages of ideas to blue print designs. Things are currently on hold with the school project, but it would be amazing to see the students’ ideas become a reality.
I was reminiscent of the Schoolyards to Playgrounds program when I checked out the new state-of-the-art playground wonderland in Union Square. This dream playground that is mainly ready for action (a few things including the bathroom are not open yet) is a “pipe dream” for my son right now with the below 30 degree weather & horrific wind chills!
New York Magazine had a nice spread this week on the new Union Square Wonderland (by Sarah Bernard). In Bernard’s words, “The beautiful, brand-new 15,000-square-foot kiddie Shangri-la has instantly raised the playground bar citywide. It’s the result of a year and a half of construction, approximately $3.8 million, and seemingly endless consultations with learning experts, botanists (to make sure the plants wouldn’t be poisonous), and neighborhood parents.” Bernard goes on to discuss the fifteen coolest features. When things thaw out, I can’t wait to hop the subway down to Union Square to experience this unique playground. Who is with me?
As a stay-at-home dad and a former resident of Union Square I have seen this project being created. I too cannot wait to bring my little guy there as well (once the weather gets nicer).