Environmental Initiatives
New York City (NYC)
Parks and Public Space
NYC has made a significant progress in the utilization of open spaces. PlaNYC and the Department of Recreation and Parking have added nearly 182 acres of parkland since the plan was launched in 2007. The PlaNYC goal of ensuring that every New Yorker lives within 10 minutes of a park is gradually being achieved. To date, approximately 76.5 percent of New Yorkers have this level of access, up from 70 percent in 2007 and an increase of 240,815 people in the past year alone. Due to population density, NYC still has fewer acres of green space per person than almost any other major city in the U.S. As the city's population continues to grow, need to create new parks and open spaces also increases. These open spaces contribute to the city's existing physical assets and quality of life across a wide range of outdoor experiences.
The NYC Plaza Program is another initiative intended to green the streets and create new public spaces. The Program aims to create new and enhance existing pedestrian plazas through participating non-profit organizations. This program is reinventing NYC's public realm. In NYC, the public right of way comprises 64 square miles of land - enough to fit about 50 Central Parks. The program attempts to prioritize sites in neighborhoods that lack open space and re-claim streets at appropriate locations to make new plazas. In its fifth year of operation, the Plaza Program looks to partner with community groups that are commited to operating, maintaining, and managing these spaces so they become vibrant pedestrian plazas. One example is the neglected intersection of Fulton and Grand in lower Manhattan, which was transformed into a 15,000 square foot pedestrian plaza, featuring vegetation, formal and informal seating, enhanced lighting and shelter as a result of a partnership between the Plaza Program and the Fulton Area Business (FAB) Association.
In an effort to maximize the use of existing open spaces, NYC launched the Schoolyards to Playgrounds initiative in 2007. As of November 2011, the program celebrated the opening of its 200th underutilized schoolyard as a new community playground. Many of these sites are concentrated in construction-dense areas, where there has been a shortage of space for recreation. Some of these locations required intensive capital improvements such as new asphalt and fencing.
The Million Trees program is set to green NYC, adding a million new trees to its landscape by 2017. To date, the city and its partners has planted over 500,000 trees. As the planting season in April arrives, the city will target local residents to plant trees in their yards and neighborhoods through the "Put Down Roots" program. The city will offer free trees to New Yorkers who wish to plant on their property and will provide recommendations on tree care and maintenance.
PlaNYC and NYC Plaza Program Featured Updates:
In June 2011, in a partnership with Friends of the High Line, Phase II of the High Line in Chelsea (from West 20th-30th Sts) was opened. NYC expects to acquire the northern-most section of the High Line by mid 2012 and continue the highly acclaimed design elements featured in the first two phases. Fundraising events have been under way to raise money for the final section of the elevated park.
The McCarren Pool, located in the 35-acre McCarren Park in northern Brooklyn, was one of eleven pools opened by Robert Moses in 1936. It closed in 1984 and remained unused until 2005, when the pool basin was transformed into a popular venue for summertime concerts, dance, and movies. Through a PlaNYC initiative, $50 million in funding was allocated to McCarren Pool to rebuild it as a center for year-round recreation. The restoration project includes a swimming pool, recreation center, snack shop, and rooftop café. The pool area can also accommodate an ice skating rink in winter. The project is anticipated to open in summer 2013.
In October 2011, Mayor Bloomberg and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed an agreement commiting NYC and the National Parks Service to re-envision the 10,000 acres of public lands around Jamaica Bay in south Queens and Brooklyn. Planning for these ecologically diverse estuaries commenced in early 2012 and proposals should released later in the year.
November 2011, construction began on Steeplechase Plaza, a public space that houses the old B&B Carousel and will be a gateway to revilalizing the Coney Island amusement district.
Calvert Vaux Park extends into Gravesend Bay in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of south Brooklyn. It is named after Calvert Vaux, an English architect, who spent 40 years of his professional life in NYC and designed numerous public spaces (among them Central Park and Prospect Park-in concert with Fredrick Law Olmstead). The Park offers spectacular water views and glimpses of birdlife naturally attracted to the terraine. It also offers a playground, basketball courts, bocce courts, six baseball diamonds and a soccer field. As a part of PlaNYC Open Space project, Calvert Vaux is a destination for athletics, relaxation and enjoyment of nature. A large portion of the site was created out of sand, soil, and rock excavated from the construction of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge.
PlaNYC2030 NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation NYC Plaza Program