By Gina Martinez
Flushing’s PS 120 students can now enjoy the new environmentally friendly playground they helped design.
City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), Borough President Melinda Katz and DEP Acting Commissioner Vincent Sapienza attended the ribbon-cutting for the renovated schoolyard that is set to improve the health of Flushing Creek.
The schoolyard was transformed and now features a new turf field, running track, gazebo, play equipment, basketball practice hoop, outdoor classroom and water fountain. Koo and Katz were able to make the transformation possible in partnership with the Trust for Public Land’s New York City Playground Program, the Department of Education, the Department of Environmental Protection, the School Construction Authority and the New York Road Runners Together.
The community playground was designed by students and community members through the Playgrounds Program. The green infrastructure elements will help capture up to an inch of rainwater during storms, amounting to almost 500,000 gallons a year. DEP funds green infrastructure on publicly owned property to reduce combined sewer overflows into New York’s waterways, including Flushing Creek and Flushing Bay.
Koo said the new playground will make sure kids are given the best space to stay active and healthy.
“What makes this playground especially unique is that its design came from the hearts and minds of PS 120Q’s own students and faculty,” he said. “I’m very proud to have contributed $235,000 in funding to this project so that our kids can have the best infrastructure possible to help them achieve a world class education.”
Sapienza said the playground was one of the first steps in improving the conditions in Flushing Creek.
“Flushing Creek has suffered from more than a century of neglect, and in order to reverse that legacy DEP has invested $500 million over the last decade to reduce pollution and improve the ecological health of the waterway,” he said. “The more green infrastructure we build, including curbside rain gardens in sidewalks, playgrounds at schools and on private property, the healthier Flushing Creek will become, so we look forward to many more ribbon-cuttings for green playgrounds.”
In addition, the turf field includes materials recycled from DEP’s Municipal Water Efficiency Program, which replaces old 5-gallon flush toilets in public schools with low-flow toilets. According to DEP, for this playground project 3,500 toilets were crushed. The crushed porcelain now serves as a sturdy, porous sponge under the turf field and instead of wasting clean water, those toilets help one inch of rain soak into the soil beneath, reducing the burden on the city’s sewer system, DEP said.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart