City Council Candidate Starts Drive for P.S. 8 Playground

herdDemocratic NYC Council candidate (D33)/ Brooklyn Heights resident Doug Biviano  announced today that he is starting a petition to provide a temporary playground for P.S 8 kids.  They’ll be losing their current school yard due to an expansion project announced earlier this year.
And as election year attention getting ploys go, this one doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.  In an email sent out today, Biviano writes:

The children at PS 8 in Brooklyn Heights are set to lose their school yard to construction this coming fall for two years, while nearby Squibb Park remains unused. As a PS 8 parent, I know this is unacceptable, so I drafted a petition asking the city to make Squibb Park safe and available for PS 8 students to use as an interim school yard for outdoor recess and phys. ed. space.

Biviano has posted a petition on his website and is asking anyone supporting his idea to sign it.

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  • ABC

    now here’s a good politician — find a problem, take the proposed solution, and claim it as your own idea! well played!

  • Love the Heights

    Doug is an action oriented guy. He is EXACTLY the kind of person we need to represent us now.

  • TUV

    City Parks Dept is already hard at work to make Squibb available to PS8. Funding is the issue.

  • PS 8 parent

    Is Seth Phillips on board with this? I know it seems obvious….but just checking.

  • ABC

    Seth Phillips has been on board for at least a year

  • PS8er

    The school was told that there was not enough money for this, but it is too important an issue to let go. With childhood obesity on the rise, no playground for 2 years is terrible. We need to continue to fight for this.

  • Jerry

    How expensive could it be? Get a couple bobcats down there, throw a coat of paint on things, tighten some screws…good to go. This is a great idea, and it’s good to see someone stepping up to the plate to get it done.

  • Pizza Dude

    I thought Adrian Benepe wanted to turn Squibb into a skate park?

  • PS8er

    I don’t remember what the actual price tag was, but besides the initial fix-up, there were maintenance issues as well. I have a feeling though, that the PS8 parent community would be willing to pitch in to clean and maintain the park. I know I would!

  • AAR

    The entire community should get behind this – including other candidates for City Council. In addition, PS 8 should have access to the fields at Cadman Plaza Park, which is about the same distance as Squibb Park and is heavily used by St. Ann’s. I recall that a number of year’s ago PS 8 had access to the gym at Plymouth Church…maybe that can be used again on a sharing schedule with the preschool. And, here’s another (perhaps a silly) idea — the JW’s have a huge gym that is probably not used much during the day.

  • In The Heights

    There are 2 concerns about using Cadman that were discussed with Seth Phillips at the end of the school year: 1) is for safety because it isn’t enclosed and 2) there are no bathrooms. Squibb is great because it is enclosed and it has bathrooms.

    If anyone out there has any press connections – we need a good NY Times article about this!

  • Doug Biviano

    As a civil engineer, I surveyed the playground with three specific considerations in mind before moving on this proposal:

    1. That this is an interim use measure to bridge two years of use at minimal cost as opposed to a major capital improvement like repaving the entire park. Think along the lines of pavement repair similar to what a pothole crew would undertake. We do not need to make a mountain of a mole hill.

    2. That the heavy equipment needed for repair, like bobcats and small rubber track excavators, can access the playground via the switchback ramp. Having operated such equipment myself, I can state for sure that we’d be good to go.

    3. Depending on the severity of the surface condition and costs, only portions of the park need to be repaired for the interim. There are large swaths of the playground that are already in fair condition.

    We will be contacting pole & surface repair contractors in Brooklyn to get a better idea of the available technologies and costs.

    Finally, I would say that while Cadman Plaza is relatively close by accessing it means crossing four lanes of traffic right next to the BQE off-ramp, and that is certainly less-than-ideal. Out of all the options, Squibb Park would be the safest and most ideal.

    Plus, as an added bonus Squibb Park would also offer an open view of the harbor. What could be more refreshing for children than that?

    Doug Biviano

  • Carlo Trigiani

    Using Squibb has been discussed for a while and is a great idea. Mr. Biviano shouldn’t be criticized for taking up the cause. Many parents are willing to help with the fix up and maintenance. It’s a win-win for the entire community – PS 8 gains a great outdoor space and Brooklyn Heights loses an eyesore. Sign me up.

  • nabeguy

    Having spent many a youthful afternoon in this park, I love this proposal. As a PS 8 parent, I love it that much more. It’s a shame, however, that it’s being looked at only as an interim stopgap measure, almost as bad as the Parks Departments decision to abandon the park when maintenance issues proved too expensive. This playground was a Moses-sanctioned concession to the neighborhood for the impact of the BQE construction. The passage of time should not void that concession and we should reclaim it in the spirit in which is was initially offered, whether through private or public funding..

  • joe

    Love the idea. I’d be willing to pitch in time or donate money.

  • Doug Biviano

    P.S. 8 Petition Update:

    Our “Green Squeak the Squibb” Petition is rocking with over 200 petitions signed already online and on paper. We’ve Got a Plan: Green Tape not Red Tape!

    While the Council Quo has only considered a $1 million “put up a parking lot” solution involving a complete big money repaving of the park, we’re working on a super low-cost Green alternative as an interim measure for two years of use by the kids. It starts with a pot hole repair approach for the main play area, then finishes off the more severe patches of surface with cobblestone-bordered flower beds, veggie and herb gardens, wood chip islands and maybe even a compost pile. P.S. 8 can be it’s own case study in the advantages of getting back to basics and Going Green!

    As for the reader’s concern “It’s a shame…it’s being looked at only as an interim stopgap measure,” I believe the implementation of a “Green” interim solution is the needed fodder to breathe life back into Squibb. Our community will once again appreciate the pleasant space that Squibb Park is and realize its full potential. And the lower cost of “Going Green” will be a great model to follow for any neglected community space in these times of doing more with less.


  • nabeguy

    Doug, you’ve got my vote. I’ll miss the sprinklers, but maybe the subterranean water system can be re-diverted towards irrigation. Seriously, there’s a ton of overlooked potential in that piece of real estate, and I’m definitely on board with your proposal, especially if going green translates to spending less green.

  • bornhere

    Nabe – Did I miss the explanation about the sprinklers being removed/inactivated? As a kid, I always thought the sprinklers were great; but if they’re a no-go, I still support revitalizing “the big playground” for PS 8 use now, and for everyone’s use thereafter. The idea that kids might have to schlep to Cadman or, worse, do without, is nuts.

  • Doug Biviano

    Thanks NabeGuy!

    We have to also remember that “Going Green” is not always solar panels and wind turbines. It’s simple solutions for simple problems. Often, natural solutions like gardens, trees and woodchips make the most sense. They are also an important connection to the natural world for our children who have far too much screen time, not green time.

  • nabeguy

    Actually, given how much sun that park gets, solar panels would be perfect for the roof of the attendants office (what we used to call the “parkie’s shed”).
    Born, my specualtion about the sprinklers was based only on the fact they they’ve been so inactive for so long, they would probably require a complete (and expensive) overhaul. However, the sprinkler area was also used as a basketball court, which seems a more apt use today.

  • PS8er

    So what is the next step here? How do we get this thing going? The construction is set to being in September so how do we actually get this thing off the ground after the Parks Dept. said no?

  • Doug Biviano

    Stay tuned…