New park initiative may be double-edged sword

Community forums for ‘Parks Without Borders’.
Photo courtesy of Malcolm Pinckney / NYC Parks

A new NYC Parks initiative’s ultimate effect may have may have both positive and negative effects for neighborhoods and parks in the Bronx.

Last month, NYC Parks commissioner Mitchell J. Silver launched the new design concept for ‘Parks Without Borders’, a $50 million initiative that will focus on improving park entrances, edges and spaces adjacent to parks, particularly where parks and neighborhoods border each other.

The initiative, which will extend parks into communities, open sight lines, adjust gates and add furnishings outside a parks’ traditional borders, launched a survey for community members to nominate any neighborhood park to receive design suggestions.

As a result, eight parks in the city will be reconstructed and redesigned using the principles and structure from the ‘Parks Without Borders’ initiative.

The survey’s criteria is based on parks near high pedestrian trafficked areas, parks with narrow, gated or inconvenient entrances and access points, areas lacking street trees or greenery along park edges, parks with high fences that block eye level view in and out of parks as well as parks with empty space surrounding the outside areas.

Despite encouraging the recreation of park areas, the effects of the initiative may not be all positive.

“We are tentatively considering Ferry Point Park West as a selection for the (Parks Without Borders) initiative – it’s a big park that needs a lot of work and sees pedestrian traffic on a regular basis,” said Ken Kearns, district manager of Community Board 10. “However, when it comes to smaller parks in this district, such as Waterbury Park, which has issues such as drug dealing, the initiative may not apply or be purposeful for certain parks because it encourages more pedestrian activity.”

Other community leaders are also aware of the potential consequences but welcome the initiative for parks in their district.

“Parks should be open spaces and have easier access – because park space in this small district is extremely limited,” said Dr. Bola Omotosho, chairman for Community Board 5, who mentioned that the community board intends to nominate Galileo and Morton playgrounds as well as Inwood Park for the initiative.

“I believe the initiative can revitalize this community, but when it comes to park issues, especially after dusk, we will stay alert and deal with these situations when they come up,” he said.

Parks Without Borders’ park nominations will be accepted until February 28, 2016, when eight of the strongest candidates will be selected and announced in spring 2016.

For more information on the nominating process for the Parks Without Borders initiative, visit nyc.gov/parks.

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.

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