Students from PS 255, IS 250 and the Queens School of Inquiry helped break ground on their new playground on Monday. They were joined by leadership from the nonprofit Trust for Public Land, Department of Environmental Protection and Borough President Melinda Katz.
The $1.2 million space will include a new running track, turf field, basketball hoops, tennis courts, trees, outdoor classroom space, game tables and fitness equipment. Construction has already begun, and by next fall, the playground will be open to both the school and the surrounding community.
“This is a project that many generations of children will get to enjoy,” Katz said.
According to IS 250 Principal Tara Mrwik, all of the ideas came from the students. Another component of the playground is new green infrastructure, which will capture 1.2 million gallons of stormwater annually to keep runoff from entering the Flushing Creek.
Carter Strickland, New York state director for the Trust for Public Land, said the playground contributions to the organization’s vision of having every person live within a 10-minute walk of a park or playground. According to Strickland, 17,000 residents live within that radius of the playground in Kew Gardens Hills.
Ronit Eliav, a 10th grade student at the Queens School of Inquiry, said while she doesn’t plan to become a landscape architect, she still found it fun to help design the playground.
She especially enjoyed learning everthing that went into the planning process, including the number of people involved and the amount of equipment required.
“It’s good for the kids in the future,” she said. “I have siblings in this school, and I want them to be able to participate in all of the physical activities that will be provided for them and the other kids in the neighborhood.”
Eliav said she especially enjoyed that the playground has space for “all sorts of physical activities,” including basketball, which she plays.
“It doesn’t focus on one thing,” she said. “It’s for all different types of kids with their own wants.”
The sophomore also thought having the gazebo was the “perfect addition,” especially for hot summer days.
“Sometimes they just need a break and stay away from the sun to prevent dehydration,” Eliav said.
IS 250 7th grader Jennifer Li said she was happy to see one of the handball walls, which is decorated with a mural of the flags of many countries, was kept. The wall was one of the first things she saw when she arrived at the school.
“It was there for such a long time. I heard teachers say it was there when they went to school,” Li said. “I think it’s a good idea to have a little history there, but also having new park stuff there.”
Classmate Leah Luzung, also in the 7th grade, said she enjoyed the planning process, which involved using paper cutouts to map out on a replica of the playground.
“We learned so much,” Luzung said. “And it was fun.”