By Bill Parry
The Louis Armstrong Middle School in East Elmhurst (IS 227) opened a new state-of-the-art, student-designed playground Monday, providing 38,000 residents a new park within a 10-minute walk from home.
The $1.3 million playground includes a running track, a turf field, basketball hoops, a volleyball court, trees, benches, handball courts, a gazebo, and play equipment. The playground was funded by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, the New York Road Runners and the Trust for Public Land.
“The student-designed and environmentally friendly playground is a significant investment in the future of the community and will be a recreational resource for the growing families of East Elmhurst,” Katz said after the Oct. 29 ribbon-cutting ceremony. “New York Road Runners and the Trust for Public Land deserve to be commended for this collaborative effort to make this playground a reality.”
At the ceremony, students buried a time capsule, set to be open again in 2038, containing many items, including food menus, class lists, photos of school activities, letters from students and the principal, newspaper pages, and one fidget spinner.
“Access to beautiful, safe and fun outdoor spaces can make a world of difference for New York City students, and through our Partnership with the Trust for Public Land we have witnessed first-hand how impactful a schoolyard transformation can be,” Road Runners Vice President of Youth and Community Services Rachel Pratt said.
The new park was created in partnership with The Trust for Public Playgrounds Program, which serves to create vibrant, educational, and fun playgrounds for New York City’s schoolchildren.
All Trust for Public Land playgrounds include student participation in the design process, providing them with hands-on learning of the science, math, and architecture that goes into designing playgrounds while giving them an opportunity to voice their thoughts on what is needed in their school’s playground.
Green infrastructure design elements will reduce stormwater runoff that can flood streets and overwhelm sewer systems, allowing untreated water to end up in bays and creeks. The playground will be able to absorb hundreds of thousands of gallons of water annually and includes more than twenty new trees that bring shade and better air quality to East Elmhurst.
“To say that this is a monumental endowment to the school and the community at large would be a tremendous understatement,” IS 227 Principal Helen Ponella said. “Having the tired worn out space where unwanted cracks and puddles have formed from over three decades of wear and tear transformed into dedicated fields for athletic activities and quiet places for reflection where our young minds and bodies can blossom and where the neighborhood can flourish is a gift to our students and surrounding residents that will be utilized and appreciated for decades to come.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr