Bustling New York City is known for its skyscrapers, bright lights as well as miles and miles of park space. In fact, the city that never sleeps actually has one of the country’s most extensive neighborhood park systems.
The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks) oversees parks, community gardens and playgrounds that are found on more than 5,000 individual properties and made up of more than 29,000 acres of land.
City officials now hope to take the existing parks and gardens and interweave them even further into the “city’s urban fabric.”
NYC Parks just launched a new program called Parks Without Borders that aims to focus on the borders, corners and other unused or underused spaces within and surrounding New York parks. Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mitchell Silver noted that, “When you see the New York park edges, you'll see why people are pushing for this change.”
Many of the parks, built decades ago, feature massive steel fences that turn people away rather than draw them in. The new initiative aims to specifically focus on where the parks connect with the rest of the city.
Just as if they were renovating a downtown luxury apartment, park designers are applying similar design and landscape strategies to the parks with the hopes of creating a seamless transition between the parks and their neighborhoods.
NYC Parks will use two separate funds to launch the Parks Without Borders program. One $40 million fund will go towards reconstructing five different parks at $8 million each. The second $10 million fund will go towards adapting projects already in development with an emphasis on enhancing landscapes and sidewalks. Both grants received funding by the mayor’s OneNYC campaign.
The program also aims to improve “park-adjacent spaces” - the areas of land that seem to have been excluded, neglected or forgotten by park planners.
Commissioner Silver observed that, “Very often we have these dead spaces that are just concrete, sitting there unprogrammed, next to parks. We’re now incorporating these into the parks themselves. We believe ‘park’ is not land for the park but the sidewalk next to the park as well.”
In order to determine which of the city’s eight parks will receive complete facelifts, NYC Parks reached out to residents for feedback. On the first day that a website was opened to solicit nominations, the agency received more than 700 suggestions. The agency will likely make a decision in early spring.