DEP Announces Drainage and Green Infrastructure for Five City Playgrounds

On April 17, 2024, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced that construction has commenced on the five new Green Infrastructure playgrounds at schools in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. The playgrounds are designed to absorb more than 3.5 million gallons of stormwater every year to curb runoff that floods nearby streets and overwhelms local sewer systems in addition to polluting the East River.

Students from each school were able to help design their schoolyard space as both green infrastructure and a community area. The playgrounds include turf fields, running tracks, play equipment, gardens, and an outdoor classroom. The playgrounds will increase park accessibility to surrounding residents. The five schools that will have the infrastructure playgrounds installed are:

  • IS 145 Joseph Pulitzer in Jackson Heights, Queens – Annual stormwater managed: 640,000 gallons/year.
  • PS 229 in Woodside, Queens – Annual stormwater managed: 440,000 gallons/year
  • Orchard Collegiate Academy/University Neighborhood Middle School M332 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan – Annual stormwater managed: 476,000 gallons/year
  • MS 35 Stephen Decatur in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn – Annual stormwater managed: 600,000 gallons/year
  • PS. 306/The Bronx School of Young Leaders in Morris Heights, Bronx – Annual stormwater managed: 1,030,000 gallons/year

The goal of green infrastructure is to intercept stormwater before the water reaches sewer systems and thus reduces the likelihood of flooding. The stormwater is then absorbed by the ground naturally. The building of these playgrounds is part of a larger plan orchestrated by DEP to reduce flooding as it becomes a larger issue for the City.

New York City Chief Climate Officer and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala said, “Climate change is bringing with it rainstorms that can overwhelm our sewers and cause flooding across the five boroughs, which is why we have more than doubled our budget for drainage upgrades, including these terrific Green Infrastructure playgrounds. Thank you to our partners at The Trust for Public Land and to all the students that have helped to design their new playgrounds.”

Mary Alice Lee, NYC Playgrounds Program Director for Trust for Public Land said, “Access to green space is critical for the mental and physical well-being of all New Yorkers, and these new community spaces are a key part of our work to close the park equity gap as well as increase climate resiliency. Trust for Public Land is thrilled to continue to partner with DEP to help students and families design quality outdoor spaces to learn and play in.”

City Council Member Chi Osse said, “As climate change continues to bring new challenges to our neighborhoods, I am glad to see DEP rising to the task. That this plan was carried out with input from community members and students shows a meaningful level of respect and care, and we welcome investment in historically-underserved areas. I look forward to continued partnership with City agencies to help build resilience and stability for New York and all its people.”

City Council Member Christopher Marte said, “Green infrastructure playgrounds are crucial for the city in helping manage stormwater and keep the East River clean, all while providing valuable green space to the community. We laud the efforts of the Trust for Public Land and DEP in their work to make Chinatown and the Lower East Side more sustainable.”

By: Meg Beauregard (Meg is the CityLaw intern, and a New York Law School student, Class of 2024).

New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL): “Upgrading Drainage Across The City, The Department of Environmental Protection and Trust for Public Land Break Ground on Five New Green Infrastructure Playgrounds” (April 17, 2024).


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.