NYC Parks Cuts Ribbon on Imagination Playground at Betsy Head Park
NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, today joined City Council Member Darlene Mealy, Founder and President of Rockwell Group David Rockwell, administrators and 5th grade students from P.S./I.S. 323, and local community members to cut the ribbon on Imagination Playground at Betsy Head Park in Brownsville. This is the first permanent Imagination Playground play space in Brooklyn and only the second to be built worldwide, with the first at Burling Slip in Manhattan. The space inspires kids' imaginations through fantasy and cooperative play.
The project was designed pro-bono by Rockwell Group, which also donated a set of Imagination Playground Blocks to the Brownsville Recreation Center in 2014, to enable children to experience this engaging, open-ended form of play in advance of the playground's completion. Funded with $5.05 million, the project received capital allocations of $3.1 million from Council Member Mealy, $750,000 from the Brooklyn Borough President and $1.2 million from Mayor de Blasio.
"Brownsville is a wonderful community full of people who are passionate about improving their parks, and Imagination Playground at Betsy Head is an exciting addition to the neighborhood," said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. "This playground is only the second of its kind in the world, and Parks is honored to bring it to Brownsville, a community that needs and deserves high quality open spaces. Kids have the freedom to create, build, and interact in new ways here, stimulating body and mind. I'd like to thank the Rockwell Group for their generosity and vision, and our elected officials for allocating the funds to see it through. I am certain that this space will be beloved by all who visit for generations to come."
"As a native son of Brownsville who has represented the neighborhood in the New York State Senate and now as borough president, I know that children there are too often deprived of the playgrounds and other spaces to expand their imagination and exercise that are commonly available elsewhere," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. "Imagination Playground will support the full creative development of the children who play there into adults with superb critical thinking skills that allow them to solve problems and contribute to our society. I am proud to have been involved in this investment for the children of Brownsville."
"I am thrilled to have initiated and supported the implementation of the Imagination Playground for Betsy Head Park in Brownsville with my partners at NYC Parks and David Rockwell, Founder and President of Rockwell Group," said City Council Member Darlene Mealy. "The park will provide a dynamic, multi-generational environment that allows children to play, collaborate and build. We look forward to the Betsy Head Park Imagination Playground serving as a focal point for the community. I am also excited for the Brownsville community that this state of the art project will be the first permanent Imagination Playground play space in Brooklyn, and the second to be built worldwide!"
"We are thrilled to introduce Imagination Playground to Brooklyn families," said David Rockwell, founder and President of Rockwell Group. "Imagination Playground at Betsy Head Park will give children an opportunity to do what they do best-dream, collaborate, build, and create-within a leafy, vibrant oasis. We are so grateful for the generous support of the City of New York and all of our partners to bring this concept to the city's largest borough."
The concept behind Imagination Playground is to encourage creative and unstructured, child-directed play. Inspired by tree houses, Imagination Playground at Betsy Head Park includes a lush, plant-filled multi-level space with water, sand, and loose part play areas. It is surrounded by a long, curving play ramp that weaves through the trees, bridged by permanent play equipment for year-round enjoyment. During the height of the season, a trained Playground Associate will be onsite to maintain and manage the Imagination Playground Blocks. The park also now boasts brand new basketball and handball courts and a new outdoor fitness area for exercise, strength-training, and cardiovascular workouts.
For an exciting look at the new Imagination Playground in action and interviews with Commissioner Silver and David Rockwell, check out today's Periscope and Facebook videos from the ribbon cutting. NYC Parks uses Periscope to share explorations of New York City's parks, natural areas, recreational facilities, and historic sites with expert tour guides.
Photo Credit: Malcolm Pinckney/NYC Parks