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Betsy Head Park

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, October 29, 2014

NYC Parks Breaks Ground On Creative New Play Space

Photo by Daniel Avila

On Tuesday, October 29, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, joined City Council Member Darlene Mealy, NYC Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been, Founder and President of Rockwell Group David Rockwell, Community Board 16 District Manager Viola Greene-Walker, and students from P.S. / I.S. 323 to break ground on Imagination Playground at Betsy Head Park in Brownsville. It will be the first permanent Imagination Playground play space in Brooklyn and the second to be built worldwide and will inspire kids' imaginations through fantasy and cooperative play. The ground breaking also represents a major accomplishment of the Administration's Hundred Days to Progress Initiative, a collaborative effort between City, State, and community partners to bring about positive change in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

"Imagination Playground has become a model for innovative play spaces worldwide, and we are excited to bring one to Brownsville, a community that needs and deserves high-quality parks," said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver. "I'd like to thank Rockwell Group for recognizing the vital role that playtime takes in the lives of our city's young people, as well as Borough President Adams and Council Member Mealy for supporting this endeavor."

The concept behind Imagination Playground is to encourage creative and child-directed, unstructured free play. Inspired by tree houses, Imagination Playground at Betsy Head Park will include a lush, plant-filled multi-level space with water, sand, and loose part play areas surrounded by a long, curving play ramp that weaves through the trees, bridged by permanent play equipment; renovated basketball and handball courts; an exercise area for adults; and a variety of seating areas. A trained staff of Play Associates will be on site to maintain and manage the loose parts during the summer.

The project was designed pro-bono by Rockwell Group to encourage creative and child-directed, unstructured free play. MKW + Associates, LLC is the landscape architect for the project. The $5.05 million project received capital allocations of $3.1 million from Council Member Mealy, $750,000 from the Brooklyn Borough President and $1.2 million in Mayoral funding.

This past spring, Rockwell Group also donated a set of Imagination Playground Blocks to the Brownsville Recreation Center, to enable children to experience this engaging, open-ended form of play in advance of the playground’s completion.

Launched in September 2014 by City and State agencies along with community partners in Brownsville, the Hundred Days to Progress Initiative was established to accomplish or set into action projects to address the neighborhood’s immediate needs and to begin to collaborate around meaningful and long-term improvements. The goal of the Initiative is not just to see positive change within 100 days, but also to lay a solid foundation for long-term partnerships among agencies, community organizations, and other partners dedicated to helping Brownsville residents achieve their goals.

As part of the Hundred Days effort, NYC Parks has also pledged to expand the Friends of Betsy Head Park through volunteer opportunities, and programming. On Saturday, October 25th, Partnerships for Parks, a joint program between NYC Parks and City Parks Foundation, hosted It's My Park Day project at Betsy Head Park. Community members come together to revitalize two horticulture areas in the park adjacent to the track. The event was supported by the Brownsville Community Justice Center and the Brownsville Partnership, as well as Ocean Hill Brownsville Coalition of Young Professionals, the Pitkin Avenue BID, and Community Board 16.


"Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere."

Albert Einstein


Directions to Betsy Head Park

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