Parks Without Borders Initiative Aims to Improve Existing Green Spaces

Parks Without Borders Initiative Aims to Improve Existing Green Spaces

PHOTO:  City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver. Photo Courtesy of William Alatriste for the New York City Council

The city Parks Department this week presented its new Parks Without Borders initiative to the Borough Board at Borough Hall in Kew Gardens.

Mayor Bill de Blasio first put PWB on residents’ radars back in April, when he unveiled OneNYC: The Plan for a Strong and Just City – the administration’s “comprehensive plan for a sustainable and resilient city for all New Yorkers that addresses the profound social, economic, and environmental challenges ahead.”

Parks Without Borders is part of Vision 3 (“Our Sustainable City”) of OneNYC. According to the sweeping, ambitious plan, “All New Yorkers will benefit from useful, accessible, and beautiful open spaces.”

PWB aims to help accomplish this goal by providing a new strategy to enhance neighborhood access and connectivity. The initiative, according to Parks, looks to “make parks more open, welcoming, and beautiful by focusing on improving entrances, edges, and park-adjacent spaces.”

By extending parks into communities, opening sight lines, adjusting gates, and adding furnishings outside parks’ traditional borders, Parks Without Borders will improve New Yorkers’ access to quality parks, according to the administration.

To that end, de Blasio has pledged $50 million to the initiative.

“Parks Without Borders will open parks to users, weave green space into neighborhoods, and create a flowing, welcoming public realm,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, FAICP.

Parks Without Borders calls for direct community involvement, asking residents to nominate any neighborhood park to receive PWB design suggestions. Based on input from community members, Parks will choose eight parks to be reconstructed using PWB principles.

The department is also inviting civic and cultural organizations to participate, encouraging them to nominate neighborhood parks, and submit programming ideas they would put in place in the new spaces. Parks Without Borders’ park nominations will be accepted until Feb. 28, 2016. Parks will select the eight strongest candidates and announce them in Spring 2016.

According to Silver, $40 million of the Mayoral OneNYC funding will be used across the five boroughs to reconstruct eight parks selected from New Yorkers’ nominations for PWB design reconstruction. A park’s community support and the opportunity to improve the current layout, condition, and relationship to its surroundings are the most important factors for the success of these projects, he said.

Selection criteria also includes:

Location – parks near high pedestrian trafficked areas; Entrances – parks with narrow, gated or inconvenient entrances/access points; Landscaping – areas lacking street trees or greenery along park edges; Fences – parks with high fences that block eye level views in/out of parks. Perimeters – parks with empty spaces around the outside of the park.

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By Michael V. Cusenza







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