One of the cornerstones of the Bloomberg administration’s PlaNYC 2030 was ensuring every New Yorker lived within 10 minutes of a park. That is tricky, real estate being the valuable commodity that it is, so building new parks is not always easy—we had to construct one on a derelict railway, for godsakes!
So the administration came up with the clever idea of opening up city schoolyards to the community after school. Today in Jackson Heights, Mayor Bloomberg and the Parks Department celebrated the 200th playground opening.“In a time of tight budgets, our schoolyards represent a great opportunity for transforming existing, underused resources into something we can all enjoy,” Mayor Bloomberg said.
Currently 71 percent of privileged New Yorkers live within the desired 10 minute walking distance. The whole park-in-every-neighborhood plan is great, but this has The Observer pondering what happens when New Yorkers start demanding 9-minute parks.
The goal is to convert another 58 schoolyards into full-time playgrounds by 2013, via a collaboration between the Parks Department, the Department of Education and the non-profit Trust for Public Land, who are working on the renovation of these new play spaces.
The total investment by PlaNYC is $87.6 million, and the design process of each park has involved the children, parents and teachers from each school.
However, some of the spaces bring into question the very definition of what constitutes a ‘playground’. Is it a new lick of paint and some blacktop? Or do you need a basketball net and the token tree? Either way, more safe space for the children of the city can’t be a bad thing.