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Brooklyn Bridge Park to expand environmental education center

Councilmember Lincoln Restler allocates $470K

September 9, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP), Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, and Councilmember Lincoln Restler on Friday announced a funding allocation to renovate and expand the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s Environmental Education Center. Councilmember Restler’s office will allocate $470K towards the project, and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation will allocate the remaining $500K for the expansion.

“Brooklyn Bridge Park is a magnificent green space in our city. I’m thrilled that we can fund the expansion of the Conservancy’s Environmental Education Center so more young people can learn about the ecology, history, and infrastructure of our Brooklyn Waterfront, “ Restler said. 

Related Article: Environmental Education Center opens at Brooklyn Bridge Park

The Environmental Education Center is located at 99 Plymouth St. in a former New York City Department of Environmental Protection maintenance building that Brooklyn Bridge Park converted for park operations in 2014.

In addition to providing classroom space for school groups, the Center features hands-on exhibits showcasing the plants and animals of Brooklyn Bridge Park and the East River estuary and is open to the public four afternoons a week.

Currently 99 Plymouth hosts the Center, a small community room, a public restroom, and Park maintenance facilities. This set-up only allows for a maximum of 25 visitors at a time for educational programming and class offerings are frequently oversubscribed, with school groups placed on a waiting list to attend classes in the Center.

Planned renovations will create additional classroom and community spaces, aimed at increasing educational space by 70% to accommodate 30,000 more annual learners. A larger space will allow the Conservancy to expand its educational and community service programs for teens, as well as provide more opportunities to expand childhood and adult education programs, give greater flexibility for classes, and enhance ADA compliance. 

Young children enjoy the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s Environmental Education Center. Eagle file photo by Mary Frost

The Conservancy’s education programs launched in 2008, welcoming students for on-site, hands-on investigative classes in the environmental sciences. Students from all five boroughs, and every zip code in Brooklyn have attended the Conservancy’s education programs.

“The continued success of the Conservancy’s education programming has shown a real need to expand this space so that even more students and visitors can be served, said Eric Landau, Brooklyn Bridge Park President. “We look forward to new and expanded offerings and greater opportunities for learning.”   

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In 2015, the Conservancy headquartered their education programs at 99 Plymouth, where they have expanded their offerings and welcomed thousands of young learners, year-round, rain or shine. Each year nearly 10,000 students, 65% from Title 1 schools, and 10,000 drop-in visitors attend public programs at the Education Center. Since 2008, nearly 200,000 students and visitors have enjoyed the Conservancy’s environmental education programs in the park.

In addition to the capital funding provided by BBP and Councilmember Restler, the Conservancy will be launching a fundraising campaign later this year to support its expanded staffing and program offerings in the enhanced space.

“I’d like to extend a huge thank you to Councilmember Restler and BBP President Eric Landau for their commitment to environmental education in Brooklyn Bridge Park and for the funding allocations to expand the Environmental Education Center. In the coming months, the Conservancy looks forward to sharing more of our plans and aspirations to bring a dynamic ensemble of new hands-on, interactive environmental education programs in Brooklyn Bridge Park for NYC children and adults,” said Nancy Webster, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy.

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