The mayor chose one large park per borough—Highbridge Park in Manhattan, Betsy Head Park in Brooklyn, Freshkills Park on Staten Island, Saint Mary’s Park in the Bronx, and Astoria Park in Queens—to receive $30 million to upgrade facilities. Together these parks are within walking distance of 750,000 residents, but have suffered in years past from under-investment.
The city has designated the five sites as anchors because they are community resources in densely populated, lower-income areas that have strong development potential. Parks Department commissioner Mitchell Silver told PIX11 that the chosen parks are a “stabilizing force in neighborhoods and offer more diverse resources than smaller community parks.”
“New Yorkers deserve to have the greatest parks in the world steps from their homes. That’s why our administration is focused on park equity, which brings fair access to and development of parks across the city. The Anchor Parks program, joined with the Community Parks Initiative and Parks Without Borders, marks another major step in advancing park equity for all New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
In the fall, Parks officials will outreach the surrounding communities to determine the best improvements to make.
The announcement follows the Parks Department’s groundbreaking on its first Community Parks Initiative (CPI) project last week. The mayor started CPI in 2014 to improve green space in low-income neighborhoods. City officials gathered at Thomas Boyland Playground in Bushwick, Brooklyn to celebrate the start of construction on the first 35 sites that will be built in CPI’s first phase (an additional 12 parks are in design, with more sites to be announced soon). The $3 million renovation at Thomas Boyland will add a natural turf baseball field, basketball court, fitness equipment for adults, new landscaping, and a redesigned children’s play area with a cooling spray shower.
Last fall, de Blasio announced that CPI will receive $285 million in capital funds through 2019.