PARK SLOPE – Dozens of P.S. 282 students and Principal Rashan Hoke joined Council Member Brad Lander, NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Vincent Sapienza, and NYC Parks Borough Commissioner Martin Maher Monday morning to celebrate the opening of the school’s new and improved “green” playground.
Located on Berkeley Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in Park Slope, the former asphalt playground has been renovated to include a synthetic turf field, running track, spray shower, drinking fountain, basketball hoop, benches, and trees.
The playground was also redesigned with a green infrastructure that will capture one million gallons of stormwater a year, preventing it from flowing into the Gowanus Canal. Stormwater that falls onto the playground and basketball court will now be directed to a drainage system consisting of a broken stone storage layer and perforated distribution pipes installed underneath the turf field to keep the runoff out of the neighborhood’s sewer system, helping to reduce combined sewage overflow into the Gowanus Canal annually.
“When it rains on an asphalt or concrete playground, the water just runs off and can overwhelm the sewer system,” DEP Commissioner Sapienza explained. “Making paved areas like playgrounds more of a sponge, allowing these areas to soak up water and have it filter into the ground rather than go into the sewer system, really helps the environment, and that’s why DEP is so interested in doing these types of things all throughout the city.”
The renovation of the P.S. 282 playground is part of a DEP program to implement green infrastructure design into several playgrounds across the city. The agency has completed 45 playgrounds and is currently designing another 89.
Council Member Lander recalled meeting with P.S. 282 Principal Hoke in January 2016 to discuss a small sinkhole at the playground that was growing and becoming increasingly dangerous for students and neighborhood children.
“Who likes [it] when your playground has a giant hole in the middle of it that makes it dangerous?” Lander asked the young students in the audience who responded with boos.
The Council Member explained that the Parks Department conducted a study following his conversation with the principal and the agency determined that instead of just filling in the sinkhole it would do more to make the playground safe for the long term. “You wouldn’t have thought that we could have come up with a project that would bring us some money to fix the playground but also clean up the Gowanus Canal at the same time,” Lander said.
Three city agencies were involved with the renovation of the playground because the play space is used by the Department of Education but is managed by the Parks Department and lies within DEP’s Gowanus stormwater runoff zone.
“This is a great project. This is when bunches of people from different parts of the city get together and do something right that’s really good,” said NYC Park Borough Commissioner Maher.
Council Member Lander provided $250,000 to fund the Park Slope/P.S. 282 Playground project and DEP allocated $350,000. Lander credited P.S. 282 parents attending a local Mayoral Town Hall last Fall in helping to expedite the project quickly, getting it completed ahead of schedule. Crews began work on the project at the end of the school year last spring and finished two weeks earlier than the original deadline, Lander noted.
During construction, this section of the playground was closed throughout the summer forcing families into the western part of the park, but local parent Henry Choi said it was worth it. “It was a bit crowded but everyone understood the sacrifice and we’re happy it’s here now.”
“Even in its decrepit state before,” he says his two children, four-year-old Colton and 22-month-old Clementine, loved playing there. At least one of Choi’s kids is at the playground every day. “Colton learned how to ride his pedal bike for the first time here and Clementine learned how to ride the scooter,” he says. “This is a place that’s very near and dear to the community’s heart.”
“Everyone’s been waiting with bated breath for this day, checking every day to see [when] things were going to open,” Choi added. “We’re so happy now that’s it’s finally opening.”
Principal Hoke wrapped up the event by leading his students in chanting the school’s motto, “Remember here at Park Slope P.S. 282, we always dream, believe, excel, and achieve!”