Mayoral Race: Stringer Plan Promises 200 New Playgrounds

Comptroller and Mayoral Candidate Scott Stringer unveils his initiative in Crown Heights to build 200 playgrounds citywide. Photo by Stephen Witt

Comptroller and Mayoral Candidate Scott Stringer took to a mid-block playground in Crown Heights, Brooklyn today to unveil his plan to build 200 new playgrounds and to baseline 1% of the city budget for parks if he is elected mayor.

Stringer’s plan calls for more equity in access to green space and playgrounds. Nearly 1.5 million New Yorkers are further than a walk to a park — with many of the largest “park deserts” in Williamsbridge, Morris Park, Flatbush, Canarsie, Midwood, Ozone Park, Astoria, and Elmhurst, he said.

“Green spaces and open spaces are absolutely critical for fun and relaxation, but they’re even more than that — and our commitment to these spaces reflects our commitment to taking on climate change, reclaiming our street space for communities, ensuring City services are provided equitably for all, and creating a city where families can thrive,” said Stringer.

Roughly 100 of the new playgrounds will come from existing public schoolyards, many of them currently barren asphalt lots. Stringer said he will work with the Department of Education, the Parks Department, public school students and nonprofit partners to dramatically upgrade these schoolyards, and add play equipment and other amenities. 

The new ‘schoolyard-to-playground’ initiative will also include an investment in outdoor learning facilities, and allow community use in the early evenings and on weekends.

The plan also calls for the city to “pedestrianize” hundreds of streets and build permanent playgrounds such as the playground on St. Marks Avenue where he announced his initiative.

Stringer said this includes building at least 100 mid-block playgrounds — as well as dog parks, plazas, skate parks, and community gardens — by closing off blocks to through traffic and dramatically reclaiming space for pedestrians, bikes, and community uses. 

This “Pavement to Playgrounds” model has been in place for five decades on St. Marks Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and will be introduced in every community in New York City.

Stringer’s plan also came with a guarantee that every park and playground has a bathroom and changing station by 2029.

Unfortunately, only 40 percent of the City’s 1,700 parks, playgrounds, and recreation facilities include a comfort station and only 27 percent of these bathrooms have changing tables, Stringer said.

To accelerate the playground’s buildout, Stringer will empower the Parks Department and create an Office of Public Space to streamline the capital planning, contracting, design, engineering, and construction process. 

Overall the plan drew raves among several elected officials who have already endorsed Stringer for mayor.

“There is no reason my kids should have to walk farther to find a playground than other kids in this city. There’s no reason my neighborhood should have hotter summers than other neighborhoods. And there’s no reason my community should have to suffer higher rates of asthma and obesity than other communities,” said Crown Heights Assemblywoman Diana Richardson. 

“Scott has stood with us and spent time in our communities, so he knows we need playgrounds and green space for kids, our families, and our environment. And he will be ready on day one with this robust plan to deliver for all of us and bring justice to New York City,” she added.