Gorgeous new playground for P.S. 87

“P.S. 87 is the best school ever!” yelled an excited student Wednesday morning, June 2, as he marched out into the schoolyard. And now, undoubtedly, kids with the same school pride will have even more reason to cheer.

The school received a complete playground makeover, courtesy of the Trust for Public Land, the NYC Parks Department, and benefactor Arnold Goldstein. June 2 was the grand opening for the space, in which officials and children helped christen the new playground and vowed also to take good care of it over the years.

The playground itself is huge, and fancier than almost any other you’ll find in the entire borough. What was once a barren asphalt lot where kids loitered after school now includes a large turf field surrounded by a clean, smooth track with full regulation lines, a garden, an outdoor classroom space, and a jungle gym, plus — perhaps the most inviting of all for active young kids — four different basketball hoops, also with the right lines painted so that the space functions as a full court. It will all be used by the school during the day, but also open to the community after school and on weekends.

“When we had a good idea of what we wanted the playground to look like,” explained student Kezia Counts in a speech, “We went out and started to take measurements. That was so fun.”

Not just Counts, but all the students, had a real say in designig the playground. Implementing what the students want is a new idea in city playground design, and it’s one that the TPL is taking very seriously in its new initiative to open beautiful playgrounds all over New York City. Jasmine Gordon later shared that students wanted basketball hoops but were originally told that wouldn’t work out. “But then they gave in and put exactly what we wanted,” she bragged.

Sue Donoghue, the Assistant Commissioner for Sustainability Initiatives of the NYC Parks Department, spoke on behalf of Parks commissioner Adrian Benepe and directly thanked the students. “From the looks of this playground, you did an extraordinary job.” Donoghue mentioned that Benepe and the Parks Department have a lofty goal: to have a park or playground open to every New Yorker within a 10-minute walk of their home, all within the next couple years. “Take good care of this park,” she added.

A representative of the Parks Department shared that this was the 133rd playground to be built new or at least renovated since July 2007, and that 69 of those were without any renovations because they were in good enough shape already. Some spaces get no big improvements at all, but some are completely remodeled in this process. The remaining 187 will be renovated by either DOE, the Parks Department, or TPL. These groups, as a partnership, plan to open 256 total schoolyard sites for public use by 2013.

Arnold Goldstein, who runs the Arlene & Arnold Goldstein Foundation charity, helped donate a large chunk of the funds for the playground, and expressed the hope that it keeps kids off the streets. “For me, growing up in the Bronx, I’d be out playing when I was supposed to be doing homework,” he told students.

Finally, P.S. 87 principal Donna Anaman said, “Our playground and community park is a vision of what can be achieved together. Who would think that an area that was once drab and lifeless could be transformed into… an oasis!”

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