By Gina Martinez
A shared Flushing schoolyard is set to be transformed into an environmentally friendly playground.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and The Trust for Public Land Playgrounds Program Director Mary Alice Lee were at JHS 189 and Flushing International High School’s school yard Tuesday to break ground on the new capital project.
The $1 million playground was designed through a participatory design process led by students and is expected to be completed by next summer.
According to the Trust for Public Land, students were surveyed by their peers as part of a class project to learn the most popular playground features. Students then worked with landscape architects to incorporate the student wish list into the final design. The participatory design process teaches many valuable skills, including environmental science, budgeting, and negotiation, the Trust said.
The new green playground will be able to manage up to 360,000 gallons of rainwater annually and will include green infrastructure elements, such as specialized planting and shade trees, porous pavement and permeable pavers. It will also have a new synthetic turf field of woven polyester filaments, a broken stone storage layer, and perforated distribution pipes to promote infiltration.
The trust said these features will reduce storm 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 20 to 30 new trees that bring shade and better air quality to their neighborhoods.
Katz said the ground breaking is a direct investment in the future and families of Flushing,
“This $1 million, state-of-the-art green playground was envisioned through participatory design by JHS 189’s and Flushing International High School’s students, staff, parents and community members, and the Borough of Queens is grateful for their innovation and commitment.” she said.
Koo said Flushing is setting a precedent for green development that turns empty lots into active play areas for the children.
“This is the seventh playground we’re upgrading in Council District 20 and the second partnership we’ve made with Borough President Melinda Katz, the Trust for Public Land and DEP,” he said. “I was proud to contribute $200,000 for this project, and look forward to cutting the ribbon on a new and improved playground for our schoolchildren and the entire community.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart