City Officials Unveil New Eco-Friendly Schoolyard At I.S. 162
What used to be an asphalt-covered Bushwick schoolyard is now green in nearly ever sense of the term.
City officials and members of the Trust for Public Land cut the ribbon last Thursday, Sept. 19, on J.H.S. 162’s new “green” playground off Willoughby Avenue featuring devices not only to entertain children, but also to keep polluted runoff out of the city’s sewer system and waterways.
Developed through the Trust for Public Land, the city Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the city Department of Education (DOE), the project was part of an ongoing effort to build 40 new ecofriendly playgrounds across the five boroughs.
Among those on hand for the ceremony were DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd; DOE Superintendent Lillian Druck; Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna; Assemblywoman Maritza Davila; New York State Director of the Trust for Public Land Marc Matsil and April Hawkins of the MetLife Foundation.
“We are pleased to be a part of this unique program that has brought a clean and safe playground to Bushwick and J.H.S. 162, while also helping to reduce pollution in Newtown Creek,” said Lloyd. “These projects will also help to raise awareness amongst the next generation of New Yorkers about the connection between effective stormwater management and the health of our local waterways.”
Students, parents and other members of the J.H.S. 162 school community worked with designers and city officials on transforming the once asphalt schoolyard into a lively greenspace for children to enjoy. Even those who don’t attend the school can enjoy the new playground, as it is open during after-school and weekend hours as part of the city’s “Schoolyards to Playgrounds” program.
At the center of the playground is a new synthetic turf field surrounded by a rectangular running track.
It also features a gazebo fitted with a green roof, also to trap rainwater, as well as new trees, benches, a mural, a water fountain, a basketball court and a handball wall.
The track and field surfaces are porous, as are other areas of the playground covered in a special type of asphalt that allows rain water to be absorbed into the earth below.
Nearly every aspect of the playground is designed to retain hundreds of thousands of gallons of rain water every year, reducing capacity in the city’s combined sewer system that feeds runoff and wastewater into local treatment plants.
Wastewater in the Bushwick area travels to the Newtown Creek Water Treatment Plant, but during periods of heavy rain, some of the wastewater is discharged into the creek. This happens when the water treatment plant hits capacity and is incapable of processing sewage for a period.
The DEP reportedly invested $10 billion over the last 10 years to upgrade water treatment plans and undertake efforts to reduce sewage overflows.
The J.H.S. 162 project was completed through funding provided by the DEP, the School Construction Authority and Reyna, who secured her share while serving in the City Council. MetLife Foundation and the Trust for Public Land-the latter of which has designed and/or built 183 environmentally friendly playgrounds in the city-also financially contributed to the effort.