On June 23, 2023, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Parks Department, and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) announced the completion of newly renovated tennis courts at Jackie Robinson Park in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. The DEP-funded project necessitated $1,000,000 in capital and involved painting the courts vibrant purple and blue colors, upgrading them with new surfacing and nets, and installing green infrastructure.
The new green infrastructure includes a subsurface detention system that manages stormwater runoff from the tennis courts by allowing the ground to absorb precipitation and preventing it from entering the sewer system, thereby reducing flooding and sewer overflows. This new infrastructure will keep nearly 1.2 million gallons of stormwater out of the sewer system yearly.
The tennis courts are a popular gathering place for Bed-Stuy’s active tennis community, often led by Coach Frances and Tennis HQ with support from Friends of Jackie Robinson Park Playground. Both groups benefit from support by Partnerships for Parks’ Catalyst Program—a community engagement program that works in historically underserved areas to connect people to the City’s parks and maintain them as key components of neighborhoods.
The Jackie Robinson Park Playground was opened in 1959 by the Board of Education as the Public School 21 (Crispus Attucks School) Playground. It remained under that name until 1981 when Parks took over and renamed it Jackie Robinson Park Playground to honor the work of the Jackie Robinson Development Corporation at the park. Since then, the playground has commemorated former Dodger Jackie Robinson, who made history as the first African-American Major League Baseball player, paving the way for generations of black athletes to compete in America’s national pastime.
City Council Member Chi Ossé stated, “The newly renovated tennis courts at Jackie Robinson Park Playground are a shining example of thoughtful problem-solving and community leadership. Neighborhood advocates made their needs heard and various City agencies worked together in tandem to produce a project whose results will shed recreational, safety, and environmental benefits on our community.”
DEP Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala stated, “This million dollar investment for Jackie Robinson Park Playground has multiple benefits for the community as it will help to reduce neighborhood flooding, improve the health of Newtown Creek, and of course provide a terrific facility for tennis and other activities.”
By: Dylan Shusterman (Dylan is the CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2025.)