Brooklyn Bridge Park to expand environmental education center

Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy Environmental Education Center. Eagle archive photo by Mary Frost

Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP), Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy and Council Member Lincoln Restler announced a funding allocation Friday to renovate and expand the Environmental Education Center at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. Councilman Restler’s office will allocate $470,000 to the project, and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation will allocate the remaining $500,000 to the expansion.

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

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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 classrooms for school groups, the Center features interactive exhibits featuring 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 centre, a small community hall, public toilets and park maintenance facilities. This configuration only allows for a maximum of 25 visitors at a time for educational programming and course offerings are often oversubscribed, with school groups being placed on a waiting list to attend Center courses.

Planned renovations will create additional classrooms and community spaces, aiming to increase educational space by 70% to accommodate an additional 30,000 annual learners. Larger space will allow the Conservancy to expand its educational and community service programs for adolescents, as well as provide more opportunities to expand education programs for children and adults, provide greater flexibility for course and improve ADA compliance.

Young children enjoy the environmental education center at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. Eagle archive photo by Mary Frost

The Conservancy’s educational programs were launched in 2008, welcoming students for on-site hands-on investigative classes in environmental science. Students from all five boroughs and ZIP codes in Brooklyn have attended the Conservancy’s educational programs.

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

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In 2015, the Conservancy established its headquarters at 99 Plymouth, where it has expanded its offering and welcomed thousands of young learners, all year round, rain or shine. Each year, nearly 10,000 students, including 65 percent from Title 1 schools, and 10,000 occasional visitors attend the education center’s public programs. Since 2008, nearly 200,000 students and visitors have benefited from the Conservancy’s environmental education programs in the park.

In addition to capital funding provided by BBP and board member Restler, the Conservancy will launch a capital campaign later this year to support its expanded staff and program offerings in the enhanced space.

“I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Board Member Restler and BBP President Eric Landau for their commitment to environmental education at 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 set of new hands-on, interactive environmental education programs to Brooklyn Bridge Park for children and adults in New York,” said Nancy Webster, Executive Director of conservation of Brooklyn Bridge Park.