Press Releases

Thursday, April 11, 2019
No. 25

Nyc Parks Cuts Ribbon On $6.5 Million Transformation Of East Harlem’s Playground 103


NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, joined Council Member Diana Ayala; Humberto Galarza, DEP, Manhattan Borough Coordinator; State Senator Brian Benjamin; Nilsa Orama, Chair, Community Board 11; Theresa Richardson, President, East River Houses Residents Assn.; Cynthia Rodriguez, Congressman Adriano Espaillat’s office; Terrell Brock, State Senator Serrano’s office; Mariely Moronta-Sanchez, Chief of Staff, Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez; Patricia Johnson, Manager, East River Houses; Maureen Gardner, Director, SCAN Cornerstone Community Center, and SCAN students to cut the ribbon on the reconstruction of Playground 103, a Community Parks Initiative (CPI) site. The new and improved playground was funded with $5.3 million from Mayor Bill de Blasio; $625,000 from FEMA, and $695,000 from DEP.

“Neighborhoods like East Harlem, and specifically the area around the East River Houses, are in great need for vibrant open spaces for families to spend recreational and respite time outdoors,” said Commissioner Silver. “Thanks to the Community Parks Initiative’s and our partner’s investment in transforming Playground 103, the community has a renewed space to play, relax, and enjoy for many years to come.”

“Playground 103 has been a staple in East Harlem for decades – it is a welcoming space for residents of all ages and has always brought our community together. I thank Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Silver and the Parks Department for investing in this playground through the Community Parks Initiative. On its face, this is an investment in a playground, but in reality, it is an investment in our youth, their futures and our community overall,” said Council Member Diana Ayala.

State Senator Brian A. Benjamin stated: “It is vital to our communities that we have access to parks and recreation areas. Coming from a background in building affordable housing, I know first hand that when urban infrastructures have open spaces it improves the environment and well-being of residents.”

"It was a pleasure participating in the ribbon cutting for Playground 103 and seeing children enjoying the renovated park,” said Nilsa Orama, chair of Manhattan Community Board 11. “This park is a community asset, and I want to thank those involved for designing a park for all to enjoy."

One of the first CPI sites announced at the start of the $318 million equity improvement program, nestled in the East River Houses, Playground 103 fills a void in a dense, underserved neighborhood by providing a high quality, safe recreation space welcoming to users of all ages. The reconstruction expanded the children’s play areas with accessible play equipment, fitness equipment and basketball courts to encourage active recreation. There is an area for relaxation; the shade trees and an array of accessible game and picnic tables, form the heart of the park. Additionally, the site’s green infrastructure elements were increased with native vegetation to address drought and salt tolerance, and habitat value to beautify an otherwise harsh location next to the FDR Drive.

DEP has committed approximately $50 million in funding for the construction of green infrastructure installations at CPI sites citywide. At Playground 103, DEP provided $695,000 for the construction of six rain gardens and a subsurface detention system that will capture up to 1.7 million gallons of stormwater that fall on the playground each year. By capturing the stormwater and keeping it out of the combined sewer system, the Green Infrastructure will help to improve the health of the East River. In addition to managing stormwater, green infrastructure helps to improve air quality while also providing shade and lowering summertime temperatures.

CPI strives to make NYC Parks a more equitable and accessible parks system by investing in smaller parks that are located in New York City’s densely-populated neighborhoods with higher-than-average concentrations of poverty. Through CPI, the City is renovating 67 parks citywide that have not undergone significant improvements in decades.


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