BY JON CRONIN
The Trust for Public Land opened their 187th playground at PS 75 in Ridgewood on Tuesday morning.
Mary Alice Lee, director of the NYC Playgrounds Program said, “The entire site was designed with all the students who worked together with our landscape architects.”
“The wonderful thing about this site is that it will be used by the school during the school day but will then be open to the community at night,” she said.
Principal James Thorbs, who started at the school as a custodian, then a paraprofessional, a teacher and now principal, said of Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn) “without him the garden I’m standing in would not exist.”
This new “green infrastructure” playground will capture stormwater with a turf field, a large rain garden, trees, and permeable paving.
The playground features a running track, basketball hoops, outdoor classroom, benches, gazebo and murals all over the ground that were designed by the students.
The one acre playground and rain garden is predicted to capture over 375,000 gallons of stormwater runoff each year.
Thorbs pointed out that living in Ridgewood, residents are familiar with stormwater runoff flooding their basements and keep the overflow out of nearby and polluted Newtown Creek.
“The thing we have here was a dream,” said Thorbs. He said once they had their idea they went on a tour of agencies and Reynoso, the City Department of Environment Protection, the Trust for Public Land and the School Construction Authority answered.
Lee said, “When he first got here the playground where the play equipment is was just a parking lot, now, through many years of his perseverance we end up with this really beautiful playground for his school.”
Reynoso said after agreeing to help with the playground Thorbes said to him, “This playground needs to happen. It’s not something I want. It needs to happen.” Reynoso told him he could help with one portion of the playground and Thorbes told him, “No. The kids need it all.”
“I left making a commitment that I would do all of it, not knowing how much it would cost. Thorbes wouldn’t accept anything except the absolute best.”
This environmentally friendly schoolyard will raise awareness among New York City’s youngest environmental stewards about the important connection between effective stormwater management and the health of our local waterways,” said Steven Lawitts, DEP Acting Commissioner.
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin