Governor Andrew Cuomo, in partnership with The Trust for Public Land, has announced the opening of a new student-designed community playground on the Winthrop School campus in Brooklyn. More than 30,000 East Flatbush residents live within a 10-minute walk of the new playground, which features new play equipment, a multipurpose field with running track, a full basketball court, gardens and planted areas, shade trees, and benches. The Winthrop School campus community playground is the first of eight playgrounds to be transformed under the second phase of the Governor's Vital Brooklyn initiative announced earlier this year. By 2020, the Vital Brooklyn initiative will transform eight playgrounds, renovate 22 community gardens, and improve four recreation centers in Central Brooklyn.

“Creating and improving access to open space greatly contributes to the health of our communities,” said Governor Cuomo. “Through these playgrounds, the new Shirley Chisolm State Park, community gardens and recreation centers we are greatly expanding this vital need in Brooklyn.”

The new park is also part of The Trust for Public Land's 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 the students 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. Students at the Winthrop campus, as well as parents and neighbors, got the chance to contribute to the playground design process.

The opening ceremony was hosted by New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey, along with community leaders and key partners such as New York State Assemblyman, Nick Perry; NYC Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner, Vincent Sapienza; The Trust for Public Land New York State Director, Carter Strickland; New York Road Runners Vice President of Government Relations and Community Investment, Mike Schnall; I.S. 598 Principal, Jameela Horton-Ball, and Winthrop School students and faculty.

Seven more Brooklyn playgrounds slated for transformation will be completed by 2020.

“Thank you, Governor Cuomo and all of our partners, for your continued dedication to improve and expand the outdoors,” said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. “The opening of this new student-designed playground is only the start to eventually providing access to open space within 10 minutes for all of the Brooklyn community.”

“We appreciate the opportunity to work with the Governor and the faculty and students at the Winthrop School to create this beautiful, new green playground, which brings thousands of Flatbush residents within a short 10-minute walk of the new park,” said Carter Strickland, The Trust for Public Land’s New York State Director. “The Vital Brooklyn initiative is an important step for the Central Brooklyn community and helps The Trust for Public Land, in partnership with the Department of Environmental Protection, continue our work to transform communities for the better.”

“DEP is a proud partner of The Trust for Public Land's Playground Program, which is transforming asphalt playgrounds across the City into green spaces for the whole community,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “The new green infrastructure that has been installed at this playground will help to reduce stormwater runoff, improve the health of the surrounding waterways, and beautify the neighborhood.”

“We are thrilled to be back at the Winthrop School campus to celebrate the opening of this amazing new space that will be enjoyed by the Rising New York Road Runners here on campus, as well as the entire East Flatbush community,” said Michael Schnall, Vice President of Government Relations & Community Investment at New York Road Runners. “Just months ago, we joined our local elected officials and city agencies in celebrating Governor Cuomo's Vital Brooklyn initiative by breaking ground, and with today's opening we celebrate the improved access for students and families to run and play, in a beautiful, safe outdoor space.”

Governor Cuomo's $1.4 billion Vital Brooklyn initiative seeks to transform the Central Brooklyn region by identifying and investing in eight integrated areas that will help to establish a national paradigm for addressing chronic disparities, such as systemic violence and entrenched poverty in high-need communities. The comprehensive plan targets increased access to open spaces and recreation which includes the opening of the new 407-acre state park named in honor of Shirley Chisholm, a Brooklyn-born trailblazer who was the first African American Congresswoman, as well as the first woman and African American to run for President. $10.6 million is also being provided to transform eight schoolyards into community playgrounds and open space, $3.1 million to transform nearly two dozen community gardens, and $1.8 million to enhance four recreation centers across Central Brooklyn.

The new student-designed community playground on the Winthrop School campus includes green infrastructure design elements, made possible in part through a partnership with DEP and which are a hallmark of The Trust for Public Land’s playground work. These features reduce stormwater runoff that can flood streets and overwhelm sewer systems, allowing untreated water to end up in rivers and bays. The green infrastructure elements include a turf field designed to absorb stormwater, trees, pervious pavers, and other green infrastructure elements, which can capture up to an inch of rainwater during storms and amount to over one million gallons per year. The trees also provide shade and improve air quality, make the city more resilient on hot summer days and improve residents' health.

Since 1996, working with the City, The Trust for Public Land’s NYC Playgrounds Program has designed and/or built 197 school and community playgrounds across the five boroughs. In addition to serving students, all playgrounds in New York City are open to the public on weekends, after school, and during school breaks, providing opportunities for both children and adults to be physically active. The program has added more than 150 acres of additional playgrounds that serve the nearly 4 million people who live within a 10-minute walk of one of the sites. The need for green space is critical in a city where 73 percent of low-income neighborhoods fail to meet the city’s standard of 2.5 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents.

About The Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit

About New York City DEP
DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing approximately 1 billion gallons of high quality drinking water each day to more than 9 million residents, including 8.5 million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. DEP has nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 in the upstate watershed. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program, with a planned $18.9 billion in investments over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, visit, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

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Preety holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies and is the former Deputy Director of Media Relations with the Modern Coalition.