Posts tagged with "New York City Parks Department":

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$40 million expansion of Bronx River Greenway breaks ground

The City of New York is closing a critical gap in the Bronx's longest greenway. The multiphase initiative to extend the Bronx River Greenway, an eight-mile network of parks and trails that runs through the borough and into Westchester County, will target missing links in the park's South Bronx section. At a groundbreaking for the next phases of the greenway last week, city officials detailed plans to restore the Bronx River shoreline, lengthen Starlight Park, and close a large gap in the greenway. The project's first phase will attempt to increase the Bronx's resilience to storms and flooding by naturalizing shorelines now fortified with artificial barriers and restoring wetlands. Phase two will knit existing but unconnected park parcels together, and connect Starlight and Concrete Plant Park with walking paths and bridges: One bridge will cross Amtrak lines at East 172nd Street, and the other will sit over the Bronx River, a southern extension of Starlight Park to Westchester Avenue. “The Bronx River Greenway provides the unique opportunity to walk, jog, run or ride a bike along the only freshwater river in New York City,” said NYC Parks commissioner Mitchell J. Silver in a statement. “Through the collaboration of our partners at the Bronx River Alliance, our elected officials, and community stakeholders, we’ve made a tremendous investment in restoring theBronx River and creating new opportunities for residents in the surrounding neighborhoods. This project will only serve to push forward the goals of our continued efforts.” The project is the result of partnerships between myriad local, state and federal agencies, including the Urban Waters Federal Partnership. Locally, the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) is managing the project for the Parks Department, while New York–based NV5 (formerly the RBA Group) is the design consultant. The project has considerable financial backing. Mayor Bill de Blasio has put $12 million towards phase one, with an additional $4.4 million from the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program, a federally funded program administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. In addition to several under-a-million contributions from local representatives, phase two will be funded by a $10 million TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and congressman José E. Serrano's $4 million allocation.
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Mayor de Blasio announces $150 million in funding for city’s “anchor parks”

Mayor de Blasio has announced $150 million in funding for major improvements to five New York City "anchor parks." 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.
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East Harlem Esplanade Project aims to revamp waterfront parks on Manhattan’s East River

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYCDPR), its Community Parks Initiative (CPI), and the Randall’s Island Park Alliance (RIPA), has inaugurated the East Harlem Esplanade Project. The scheme aims to completely rebuild the 107th Street Pier while expanding its programming in the process. This all includes a strategy pertaining to reconstruction advocacy, stewardship, and programming best practices for an improved Esplanade along East Harlem, covering East 96th to East 125th streets.

RIPA will provide support in the form of expertise for the management of long-term development, maintenance, programming and resiliency measures along the East Harlem waterfront.

Aimee Boden, RIPA President said, “The Randall’s Island Park Alliance is looking forward to reaching across the river to work with our nearest neighbors, and to helping to plan for and facilitate improved access and long-term resiliency along the East Harlem Esplanade.”

The CPI is currently committed to improving 67 community parks deemed to be "under-funded" and in "densely populated and growing neighborhoods with higher-than-average concentrations of poverty."

Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver said, “Conservancy partners like the Randall’s Island Park Alliance enhance New York City’s key public spaces with their expertise, resources, and passion. Now, with their generous commitment to create a strategic plan for the East Harlem Esplanade, RIPA is extending its influence to one of our city’s most densely populated communities, and providing expertise that will drive green equity and sustainability for the neighborhood.”

At the moment, RIPA is currently speaking to public agencies, advocacy groups and local stakeholders in order to assemble concerns related to the project while also referencing existing studies to develop the plan.

"East Harlem is a thriving, growing community that deserves world class waterfront access," said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "For far too long, our esplanade has been neglected and has fallen into disrepair, which is why the Council has made a priority of allocating millions of dollars in capital funds to address these needs, including the reopening of the 107th Street Pier. Working with community residents and local stakeholders, the East Harlem Esplanade Project will help create a comprehensive plan to fully revitalize this important public space for generations to come." 

State Senator José M. Serrano said, "Through the collaborative efforts of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, the Parks Department and now the Randall's Island Park Alliance we have a dynamic team that will transform the East Harlem portion of the Esplanade into a beautiful piece of parkland. Together we will be able to strengthen the East Harlem Esplanade and give the residents of El Barrio a much needed green space that will create economic growth for the surrounding neighborhood."

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Staten Island’s eerie, abandoned Farm Colony to be transformed into senior housing

Staten Island's abandoned New York City Farm Colony is being redeveloped into Landmark Colony, a $91 million residential community for seniors 55 and older. The architect is Staten Island–based Vengoechea + Boyland Architecture/Urban Planning. The Farm Colony was founded in 1829 as a government-run poorhouse for indigent New Yorkers. Enrollment declined with the introduction of government-run antipoverty programs like Social Security in the 1930s and the Great Society programs of the 1960s. The colony closed for good in 1975. Vacant since then, the Dutch revival–style buildings have decayed and now provide canvases for graffiti artists. In 1982, some of the land was annexed to the NYC Parks Department and added to the Staten Island Greenbelt, which runs adjacent to the property. The site, along with neighboring Seaview Hospital, was designated a New York City historic district in 1985.
With last week's City Council approval, Landmark Colony's opening is set for 2018. Plans call for constructing 344 units, a mix of medium-rise condos and low-rise townhouses, on the 43-acre site, the Staten Island Advance reported.
The complex will include 18,500 square feet of retail, a community center with an outdoor swimming pool, and 17.6 acres of green space. The colony's pond will be refurbished, and a hill with seating will surround a stage for concerts and events. 90 percent of the existing roads will be converted into bike and pedestrian trails.
Some of the ruins will be left standing, and, per the Landmark Preservation Commission approval process, new buildings must be compatible with the architectural heritage of the Farm Colony. Former dormitories will be converted into loft-style condos, while the design of the townhouses will reference the shop building on-site.
With construction expected to take less than two years, urban explorers have a only a few months left to explore the Farm Colony's ghostly ruins.
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Bush Terminal Piers Park finally opens in Sunset Park, Brooklyn

Finally. After years and year of delays, Bush Terminal Piers Park in Sunset Park, Brooklyn is open. DNAinfo reported that the opening comes more than 10 years after people started talking about turning the brownfield site into a public space. The long-anticipated park includes a waterfront esplanade, wetlands, tidal ponds, lawns, and athletic fields designed by AECOM and Adrian Smith Landscape Architecture. There is also a comfort station by Turett Collaborative Architects. But after all this time waiting for a park, Sunset Park residents won't actually have that many hours to use it. Until March, the park is only open every day until 4:00p.m. In the Spring, it's open until 5:00p.m., and over the summer, closing time is pushed back to 8:00p.m., which is still five hours earlier than New York City parks typically close. In response to AN's question about the park's early curfew, a spokesperson for the New York City Parks Department said hours are subject to change, but are currently set according to "daylight and security." So for the foreseeable future, Sunset Park's new park closes just before Sunset. The official ribbon-cutting ceremony takes place on Wednesday.
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Meet Fleurt, New York’s most anticipated chair of the fall season

Fleurt, the winning design for the Battery Conservancy America's "Draw Up a Chair" competition, has been described as an “archetypal floral form” and even a “whimsical suggestion of sun-loving flowers floating in a field.” But it is much more than that. Fleurt “announces openness and photogenic warmth” and creates a “memorable, diaphanous landscape.” Fleurt “stretches out” with its “lounging curves.” Fleurt is, yes, fine, technically a chair. Fleurt comes to us from the mind of Canadian designer Andrew Jones who just won New York’s first-ever, open-call competition to create a moveable chair for a city park. The contest, which was launched in 2012 by the New York City Parks Department and the Battery Conservancy, received 679 submissions from across the Americas. From there, a jury selected 50 finalists and then prototypes of five of those designs were fabricated and exhibited to the public. And then, after 4,000 comments were collected, the jury picked Fleurt as the winner. And if it wasn't clear from the above descriptions of said chair, the competition organizers were very, very excited to announce that. Very excited. If you can slice through all the adjectives surrounding Fleurt, it is possible to get a sense of just the basics. The chairs are made of perforated steel and will be fabricated in varying shades of blue. The floral aesthetic is realized through petal-shaped armrests that may or may not be comfortable. “I don’t like the way it forces you to make a decision with your arms,” one  sitter told the New York Times after trying out the Fleurt. To be fair, his wife disagreed with that assessment, saying “I’m not bothered by the arm rests." Soon enough you, too, can weigh-in on the Great Fleurt Armrest Debate of 2014 as the chairs are expected to arrive on the Battery Oval in Lower Manhattan by the end of the year.
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New York City allocates $5.8 million to stabilize Philip Johnson’s New York State Pavilion

After decaying for years, the New York State Pavilion from the 1964 World's Fair is getting some TLC. The New York Times reported that $5.8 million was allocated in New York City’s budget to stabilize the Philip Johnson–designed pavilion in Queens. A NYC Parks Department spokesperson told the Times that the exact use of the money has not yet been determined yet, but it will likely go toward electrical and structural work at the site’s iconic towers. The decaying Tent of Tomorrow will be getting some love as well. According to engineering studies from the Parks Department, it would cost an estimated $14 million to raze the pavilion, $43 million to stabilize it, and $52 million to restore the towers' elevators. Any attention to the park is a good sign, but considering the high cost of doing just about anything to the pavilion, this is a relatively small investment. But it is a start.
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Grocery Store Tycoon John Catsimatidis Wants to Save Philip Johnson’s New York State Pavilion

John Catsimatidis, the billionaire-grocery-store-tycoon-turned-failed-mayoral-candidate said he will write a check to save Philip Johnson’s iconic New York State Pavilion in Queens, New York. That is, if someone presents him with the right “visionary” plan.             At a recent event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair, Catsimatidis told the New York Daily News he wants to see another World’s Fair in Queens in the near future. “I can make it happen,” he told The News. “But you need people who have dreams.” It, of course, will take more than dreams alone, and, as the publication notes, Catsimatidis does not have “a specific plan, timeline, or strategy” behind his offer. Oh, the little things. But, if Cats—as he was known during his unsuccessful, but entertaining, mayoral campaign—is true to his word, then he can expect to write a pretty hefty check. A study by the New York City Parks Department found that preserving the structure as-is will cost about $50 million, and renovating it for new use would set someone like Catsimatidis back $70 million.
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Temporary Installation in East Village Park is an “Urban Forest”

New York City-based artists and architects Jieun Yang and Ji Young Kim have secured a spot in First Park, located between East First and Houston Streets near Second Avenue, for a futuristic Urban Forest as part of the 2013 Public Summer installation program, overseen by contemporary architecture group SUPERFRONT. According to the group, "This program is sponsored every year by SUPERFRONT to provide an opportunity for young and emerging designers to produce a temporary installation in New York City while also fostering a community conversation about architecture and design." On May 19, SUPERFRONT in partnership with First Street Green hosted a competition to decide which artwork would occupy the space this summer. Although still awaiting approval from the Parks Department, the winning design will likely be installed from July through August and will be open to the public on the weekends. Urban Forest replaces tree trunks with mirrored poles and leaves with transparent panels to represent and reflect the movement and public exchange of the park’s visitors. First Street Green co-director Silva Ajemian explains that there is a “piece at the very top of each pole that is lightly held to the post so it waves a little bit with the air and atmosphere.” The project emphasizes the intimacy of physical contact and draws attention to the urban and community context. Yang and Kim’s installation will serve as a stage for events such as workshops, lectures and meetings managed by First Street Green. The temporary art project is flexible in that it can be raised to different heights. The site of First Park was, up until a couple years ago, an unused lot inhabited by rats. In 2011 the Guggenheim Museum brought its traveling “lab” to the park and the space has been transformed into a functional public space that serves the Lower East Side community. SUPERFRONT will plan events themed to the artwork and the concept of “urban movement.” The installation will be presented to Community Board 3 on June 13 and will require final approval from the New York City Parks Department.
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Parks & Relocation: NYC’s Adrian Benepe Bows Out to Veronica White

With just a year and a half left of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's tenure remaining, the first of his major appointees, New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, is moving on. Under Benepe, the Parks Department was transformed on a scale that approached the early tenure of Robert Moses. Since his appointment in 2002, the commissioner oversaw the largest expansion of waterfront parks like Brooklyn Bridge Park, embraced public-private partnerships as seen on the High Line, and distributed more than $250 million in Croton Water Filtration funds to small pocket parks throughout the Bronx. In his ten-and-a-half years, 730 acres of new parkland was added—significant considering Central Park is 843 acres—and 2,000 lie ahead at Fresh Kills on Staten Island. Benepe will be moving on to take on a leadership role at the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit land conservation organization based in San Francisco, in a newly created position titled Senior Vice President for Park Development. Benepe will work out of Lower Manhattan and Washington D.C., taking Bloomberg's signature program to guarantee a park within a ten-minute walk of every city citizen to a national level, under the "Parks for People" program. TPL recently highlighted walkability of parks in cities across the country with their ParkScore analysis. Veronica M. White, director of the the Center for Economic Leadership, will take the helm of Parks in September. "I couldn't be prouder that he's going to lead the Trust for Public Land's new initiative to replicate our work in cities across the country," Mayor Bloomberg said this morning at a groundbreaking ceremony at Soundview Park in the Bronx. What the new commissioner may lack in landscape design experience she will likely make up for in fund raising. The mayor noted that White has an "exemplary record of exploring innovative partnerships and attracting private funds."
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Quick Clicks> Icelandic Sculptures, Painted Trees, Carnegie, and Parklets

Icelandic Borders. Today at 5PM, "the largest temporary public art exhibition... in New York City Parks history," titled BORDERS, will be unveiled at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza. The UN-conscious installation is a collaboration between the Parks Commissioner, an Icelandic Ambassador, and Icelandic artist Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir, consisting of 26 androgynous, life-size sculptures. Painted Trees. Gerry Mak of Lost at E Minor adoringly shares the curious images of the vibrantly painted trees around Colorado by artist Curtis Killorn. Because of the unexpected colorings, these trees do not look like they came from land, but from the sea. Green Carnegie. We were worried when gbNYC reported that the good ol' Carnegie Hall is planning to undergo a massively ambitious, full-spectrum retrofit this year. But don't worry, the architecture firm Iu + Bibliowicz, which is in charge of all this, swears to preserve "the building’s distinctive 19th-century architectural grace notes" while making dramatic green building improvements. Parking to parkletting. The SF Examiner reports that more temporary public spaces, called 'parklets,' are exploding throughout San Francisco parking spots. The public battle between those who want to park cars and those who want to seat customers out on the sidewalk seems to have a clear winner-- the Department of Public Works is stamping out countless approvals for businesses to have their own parklets despite complaints.
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Digging into the Past of New York Parks

Most New Yorkers have an intimate relationship with the city’s many parks, especially during summer months when public events transform our favorite green spaces into temporary yoga studios and music venues. It can be easy to forget the industrial past of these urban oases, or the planning work and earth-sculpting toil responsible for the conversion of reservoirs and jails into Bronx parks and West Village gardens. Before They Were Parks, an exhibition presented by the New York City Parks Department, narrates the often untold history of the city's open spaces. Curated by Jonathan Kuhn, Parks’ director of art and antiquities, the exhibit features over 100 vintage and contemporary photographs from the department’s photo archive, along with other artifacts and memorabilia, including an 18th-century grave marker from the cemetery on the site of present-day Washington Square Park. The show explores the visual transformations of former industrial and commercial sites into green spaces, and also examines these changes from a civic perspective. “The exhibit highlights the intrepid efforts of individuals and government officials to transform industrial, forbidden, or private areas of the urban landscape into public parkland,” Parks & Recreation commissioner Adrian Benepe said in a release. Before They Were Parks is free to the public and on display through September 9 at the Arsenal Gallery, at 64th Street and Fifth Avenue in Central Park—where swamps, bluffs, and rocky outcroppings stood over a century and a half ago, of course.