A playground fit for Kingsbridge

It’s the playground that grew out of a parking lot.

On Thursday, September 23, the students of P.S. 7 on Kingsbridge Road celebrated the grand opening of the new playground that was built on top ofa teacher parking lot. The roughly $1 million facility is the school’s first outdoor play area, and it will be open to the public on weekends and after school hours.

“This is not just a gift to P.S. 7, but a gift to the community,” P.S. 7 principal Frank Patteson said. “This is a wonderful experience as a new leader and I couldn’t be more excited.”

The new playground was designed by kindergarten through fifth-grade students, along with community members, engineers and officials with the Trust for Public Land, which organized and helped fund the project.

Along with a turf field, running rack, jungle gym and monkey bars, the playground includes a gazebo, performance area, green spaces, game tables and a garden, which will be used as an outdoor classroom to teach students about food and farming.

“I can’t wait to play on the jungle gym and the rock-climbing wall,” said third-grader Lirim Haxhaj, who helped design the playground. “I was in first grade when they selected me to be a member of the team. I was very happy about it because I got to work with other students.”

He said the students began by measuring the area and then brainstormed about what they would like to see fill up the space.

“We learned step by step how to design it and organize,” fifth-grader Aidan Rogers said. “I’m proud of myself that we took an empty space and made it into a playground for everyone to enjoy.”

Although over 500 students will enjoy playing outside for the first time, the teachers are down a parking lot. Still, none of them seemed concerned during the Thursday ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“It’s absolutely worth it to see their faces and their excitement,” said fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Cano, who has driven to the school since she was a student teacher about five years ago. “There’s a small Department of Education parking lot we can use some days. When it’s at max we all pitch in and make sure we’re all able to fit.”

The new facility comes from the mayor’s PlaNYC and TPL initiative to turn more open lots into play areas and green spaces for residents across the city.

Roughly $750,000 of the $1 million in expenses went into the actual construction, and some funding was also provided by the MetLife and Starr foundations.

For assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who is an alumnus of the school, the playground is a big win for the area.

“This is a beautiful place. We’re so happy we have it in the community where we don’t really have much green space,” he said. “Having this here really makes a difference in the neighborhood.”

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