BOERUM HILL — A local schoolyard is set to be transformed from a swath of unused asphalt dotted with play equipment into a student-designed space complete with synthetic turf and an open-air classroom.
The redesigned yard at P.S. 261 on Pacific Street is scheduled to open next year featuring everything from a kickball field and garden to a running track, thanks to the California-based Trust For Public Land, which worked with the School Construction Authority and fourth- and fifth-graders from the school to re-imagine the space.
Students were given the opportunity to voice their opinions about what they wanted to see in the yard, including the kickball field, said P.S. 261 parent coordinator Jerry Piper.
Currently, the yard consists of a playground and trailers for pre-kindergarteners, two basketball hoops and vast swatch of concrete.
The playground, which was renovated a couple of years ago, as well as a single basketball hoop will remain — but the rest will go, Piper said.
Since September of last year, fourth- and fifth-graders from three classes at P.S. 261 were tasked with sketching up two preliminary designs for the new schoolyard. The designs were then presented to the school PTA and ultimately voted on by the students using a ballot system, Piper explained.
In addition to new synthetic turf and the kickball field, the final design features an outdoor classroom, a gazebo with benches, a garden and an L-shaped track field that will snake around the synthetic turf.
Construction of the new yard will begin as soon as the school year ends this summer, and it is expected to continue through the fall, with an expected completion date of early next year, Piper said.
School administrators are making plans to find alternative spaces for the children to play since construction will continue through the fall. The Department of Transportation has agreed to close off one block of Pacific Street, between Hoyt and Smith streets, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on school days, while the yard undergoes construction, a DOT representative said. The school requested the closure, which will be in place between September and December.
"The yard is very important because the children need to be able to go outside," Piper said. "Construction is something we’ll have to contend with during the fall. We’ll have to be creative about how we’ll make up for the lost play space."
To commemorate the start of construction, the school is holding a groundbreaking ceremony on June 22, from 10 to 11 a.m.