New Chinatown school playground designed with storm resiliency in mind

Todd Maisel

The park’s Infiltration basins under artificial turf absorb rainfall.

A ribbon was cut on a new school playground that is both functional for the children and adds “neighborhood resiliency” to reduce storm flooding in the Two Bridges neighborhood, officials said Monday morning.

The new $1.7 million playground, located in the rear of PS 184M Shuang Wen Public School at 327 Cherry St. (across from the East River), was completed this fall through a partnership between the Trust for Public Lands NYC Playgrounds program, the city’s Office of Resiliency, and the U.S. Department Housing and Urban Renewal.

What makes the park special is its green infrastructure, including infiltration basins under the artificial turf that absorb rainfall and storm water during storm surges, a green roof gazebo, a garden for student use and trees. Aside from new play equipment, there’s also a yoga circle, a stage, and tennis and basketball courts.

Children play on a play-gym in the new park. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

“There’s far more to this playground than meets the eye,” said Jainey Bavishi, director of the Mayor’s Office of Resiliency. “By leveraging the power of resilient design, it will prevent flooding and create a sanctuary against rising temperatures while also providing new and improved recreational space for students and the surrounding community.”

Previously, the park was made up of aging tennis courts — a concrete and asphalt surface. During Superstorm Sandy, the park was underwater. The area is now more user friendly while being a “smart design,” officials say.

Children of PS 184M sit on new articial turf in the new playground. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

School Principal Jeremy Kabinoff complimented the city for completing the park in a timely manner so that his students could have “more opportunity to be outdoors.” He said students 2-5 years old spent more than 32 hours a week in front of a screen and he quoted one child who said, “I like to play indoors because that is where the electrical outlets are.”

“Outdoor play promotes physical health, promotes cognitive and emotional development, improves sensory skills, increases attention span, and ultimately happiness and better immunity,” Principal Kabinoff said. “Here at Shuang Wen, we are committed to more outside play, promoting more opportunities to exercise, have fun, and support a healthier life style.”

Principal Jeremy Kabinoff talks about the advantages of outdoor play for children. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Student Daniel Zheng said students had a say in the design of the new school yard.

“The new yard was picked through a democratic way — we had options for the design of the yard and we voted on the ones we like the most,” Zheng said. “We now have a new grass field for soccer and American football, new basketball courts, benches for people who want to take a rest. Most of the concrete has been replaced with soft mats to protect our young students from getting hurt. Our new yard represents and symbolizes a new beginning.”

The Trust for Public Land’s NYC playgrounds program has designed and or built 209 school and community playground throughout the five boroughs.

Todd Maisel