New York City Mayor Eric Adams, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks), and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) on Sept 14, 2022 announced a pilot program to re-imagine and invest in nearly three acres of NYCHA open space — including playgrounds — across three developments in Queens, two developments in the Bronx, and one development in Brooklyn. The announcement was held at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new open space at Pomonok Houses in Queens, which has been fully reconstructed under this pilot and now includes fitness equipment, sensory play equipment, seating, and new landscaping.
“New York City’s parks, playgrounds, and open spaces aren’t luxuries, but necessities — playing a critical role to build community and nurturing our physical, mental, and emotional health,” said Mayor Adams. “This investment in NYCHA’s playgrounds and open spaces is a down payment on our city’s future that will pay dividends for generations to come.”
“Every New Yorker should be able to walk to a clean, quality, and functional open space. By working closely, NYCHA and NYC Parks are making this reality,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “These revitalized areas will be important sources of health and community for the residents. We still have much work to do, but this is a big step in the right direction.”
“Everyone should have access to quality resources and amenities in their community, and that includes places to play and relax outdoors, especially for our younger neighbors,” said Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz. “This new partnership between NYCHA and NYC Parks to overhaul open spaces and playgrounds at six developments will bring joy to thousands of public housing residents. Thank you to NYC Parks for being an incredible partner in building a stronger NYCHA as we work to improve services and quality of life for residents.”
“All New Yorkers deserve to have high-quality parks that are just a short walk away from their homes,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “We are so proud of our partnership with NYCHA to transform underutilized areas under their jurisdiction into thriving public amenities, and grateful for the hundreds of NYCHA tenants and community members who came out to our input meetings and shared with us their dreams for these spaces.”
“Providing accessible open spaces that connect NYCHA residents to outdoor activity and recreation is essential to improving the quality of life for our campuses,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Greg Russ. “Today’s exciting partnership is made possible through the support of the mayor’s office and the capacity of NYC Parks, and is in keeping with the Authority’s Connected Communities initiative, which engages in robust agency partnerships and resident-focused input to increase green space equity and integrate resilience in our neighborhoods.”
NYCHA and NYC Parks met with the residents at Woodside, Pomonok, Redfern, Watson, Sotomayor, and Kingsborough Houses to choose locations and help create the vision for their brand-new open spaces. Since receiving community feedback, construction has finished at Pomonok Houses, is underway at Woodside and Redfern Houses, is expected to begin at Watson and Kingsborough Houses by spring 2023, and begin at Sotomayor Houses by summer 2023.
As part of the partnership, NYC Parks will maintain and operate the renovated open spaces. Revitalizing these spaces will create new amenities for the NYCHA community and other New Yorkers who currently do not live within walking distance of a park. Citywide, 83.6 percent of New Yorkers currently live within walking distance of a park. The Walk to a Park initiative focuses on increasing access to parks and open spaces, concentrating on areas of the city that are under-resourced and where residents are living further than a walk to a park.
Projects included in the initial pilot include:
Redfern Houses ($9.3 million)
Size: 50,000 square feet of NYCHA recreation area and Redfern Playground
Scope: This project will reconstruct Redfern Playground and the adjacent NYCHA open space to include an upgraded ball field, basketball court, and handball court, play equipment, fitness equipment for teens and adults, and a grilling area.
Woodside Houses ($1.2 million)
Size: 6,500 square feet
Scope: This project will revamp a passive seating and landscaped area at Woodside Houses with new game tables, benches, landscaping, and pathways.
Pomonok Houses ($3 million)
Size: 13,000 square feet
Scope: This project has re-imagined an open space at Pomonok Houses to include fitness equipment, sensory play equipment, seating, and new landscaping.
Watson Houses ($2.5 million)
Size: 9,300 square feet
Scope: This project will revamp a playground and seating area at 1471 Watson Houses to include new play equipment, game tables, benches, water play, landscaping, and brand new adult fitness equipment.
Kingsborough Houses ($5.1 million)
Size:20,000 and 16,000 square feet
Scope: This project will revitalize two playgrounds at Kingsborough Houses with new play equipment, game tables, benches, water play, and landscaping.
Sotomayor Houses ($1.9 million)
Size: 9,900 square feet
Scope: This project will revamp a playground at Sotomayor Houses with new play equipment, water play, game tables, benches, landscaping, and brand-new swings.
“Thank you to Mayor Adams and his administration for launching this pilot program which will provide $3 million to the Pomonok Houses in my congressional district,” said U.S. Representative Grace Meng. “Open space is crucial for New Yorkers, especially for our kids, and from the fitness equipment to new seating, I look forward to Pomonok residents benefiting from these amenities for many years to come.”