PS 89 yard gets rehab, loses trees, but will get them back

The Battery Park City Authority is doing some infrastructure updates to the yard at PS 89 since time had worn down the surface and the growth of tree roots started to mess with the drainage system. They will be replacing the asphalt area and the rubberized playground surface, as well as making some minor improvements: the pavers will extend all the way to the wall, the drainage will be improved, and the rubberized surface will be all one continuous piece. There will be a new play structure with much of the same features: a slide, bridge, music-making panel and monkey bars.

Work should be done before school starts on Sept. 4. (I will note that thanks to Bloomberg’s Schoolyards to Playgrounds Initiative from 2007, PS 89 became one of the more fun spots to play on the weekends as well, giving me an opportunity to rerun the shot below from spring and prove the point.)

But the work also included felling all the trees in the yard, as you can see above. (The shot below shows them before they were removed.) I was a bit panicked about this, but Nicholas Sbordone at the BPCA assured me they will be back. The authority does not have a final number on trees, but Nick said they will replicate the previous tree cover. And they will be 8-inch caliper mature trees, or about the size of the old ones.

Taking this opportunity to give a shout-out to trees: Trees have an enormous value to the city as a whole. Not only do they provide shade on a playground, for instance, but they make our air healthier and our city cooler overall — and a large, healthy tree removes approximately 70 times more air pollution each year than a small newly planted tree, according to the Parks Department. They divert stormwater runoff, absorb pollution and reduce energy costs. And for that they have an actual money value in the billions for the city. Really. Parks even has a tree valuation method to price all this out.

I don’t need to tell the Battery Park City Authority about the value of parkland and greenery. They are excellent stewards of their own property — to the neighborhood’s great benefit — and they know as well as anyone the value parks bring to real estate and residents’ lives. I’m sure they will bring the green back to PS 89’s yard.



  1. Not mentioned above, but there was a large vermin issue around the trees, which I assumed had a big part to do in rehabbing the space. The entire perimeter of the south east side was fenced off to prevent kids from getting too close to the black rodent stations and the many rat holes near the roots.

    Once the new trees get put in, hopefully they can control all of that before it becomes an issue again.

  2. Great piece, and thank you for the comment. Yes, as part of the renovation we’ll be using a poured-in-place, rubberized surfacing material to cover the tree pits to deter rats and other vermin.

    Hope that’s helpful and looking forward to re-opening soon!

    Nick Sbordone
    Battery Park City Authority