News

Announcing the 2016 Report Card on Parks

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

We are excited to announce the release of New Yorkers for Parks’ 2016 Report Card on Parks: Spotlight on the Community Parks Initiative. The new Report Card provides community groups, park users and other stakeholders with an independent, comparative assessment of how neighborhood parks located within areas of the city targeted by NYC Parks’ Community Parks Initiative are performing. CPI addresses park equity by outlining 55 densely populated high-needs areas, and identifying 60 parks in those areas for reconstruction.

The Report Card analyzed parks that are larger in size than the 60 parks that CPI will reconstruct. These parks really strengthen a community, providing spaces for active play, sports, and family gatherings, as well as places to be quiet, contemplative, and connected to the natural world all at once. The Report Card found that many of these parks also in need of real renewal and reconstruction. It’s not a surprise that many parks in these growing, high-needs areas aren’t serving their communities well because they’re under-maintained, with aging infrastructure. Parks that had been constructed or renovated recently scored higher than their older counterparts.

When parks like the Lower East Side’s Sara D. Roosevelt Park receive low scores, it’s clear that there’s a mismatch between this park’s popularity, and the attention it’s getting for daily maintenance and long-term reconstruction. Our neighborhood parks citywide, and especially in the CPI priority zones, should be thriving.

New Yorkers for Parks produces its Report Cards on Parks series on an ongoing basis to ensure that there is transparency, accountability, public awareness, and efficient deployment of resources throughout the park system.

City Acquires Land Needed to Complete Bushwick Inlet Park

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

We want to congratulate Mayor de Blasio, Friends of Bushwick Inlet ParkOpen Space Alliance of North Brooklyn, Council Member Steven Levin, Assembly Member Joe Lentol, and Adam Perlmutter, Chairman of the Board of OSA, on the city’s purchase of the last parcel of land needed to complete Bushwick Inlet Park. This is a huge victory for these advocates who have worked tirelessly to make it happen, and for the surrounding communities who can now finally look forward to getting the park they need. It’s fabulous to see the Mayor show that when New York City government makes a promise, they keep it.

New Yorkers for Parks was very pleased to be involved throughout the process of fighting for the completion of the park. As the citywide champion of parks and open space, this work is an essential part of who we are and what we do. We wrote letters to elected officials calling for the completion of the park, we added our name to letters sent by the Open Space Alliance, and attended rallies and other events. We are very pleased that the voices of all the dedicated advocates involved were heard by the city, to the benefit of North Brooklyn’s communities. 

Tell City Hall to Support Partnerships for Parks

Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Add your name by Thursday, November 17th, and show your support for Partnerships for Parks!

Over the past two years New Yorkers for Parks has held borough and citywide meetings with parks advocates and stewards from across the five boroughs. Almost every group spoke very highly of the support they’ve received from their Partnerships Outreach Coordinator. But we also heard again and again that the Outreach Coordinators are stretched too thin, and unable to provide the level of support the groups are looking for. That's why we're asking City Hall to add new Partnerships staff, enough to cover all of our parks and communities. 

The map below shows how many community board districts each Partnerships for Parks Outreach Coordinator oversees - each color corresponds to an OC's district in every borough. This shows just how much of the city each OC has to cover, and why we believe New York City's parks and communities need more.

On Thursday, November 17th we're presenting testimony to the New York City Council making the case for more Partnerships staff. 


Going on the Record - How to Make Your Voice Heard to City Gov't

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Giving testimony at a City Council hearing is a great way to make your voice heard to local government. Although the process may seem difficult, once you know the basic rules and procedures it’s actually a simple and effective way to help influence local policy. In this webinar we explain everything you need to know from how to check in, how to shape your messaging, to how long your testimony should be. 

Watch "Going on the Record: Making Your Voice Heard to City Government" now, or reach the transcript, below. 

Transcript:

There are a lot of ways to reach out to your City Council member these days. You could call their office or send an email to their staff. You could write a letter or sign a petition. If you’re short on time, you can even tweet! One of the most effective ways to have your voice heard, however, is to speak to your City Council member in person.

But how?

Participate in a City Council Committee Hearing! According to the City Council website, “It is there that proposed legislation is initially debated and members of other government branches and the public are given a chance to comment.” That’s where you come in.  City Council Committees typically host public hearings once a month.

Here at New Yorkers for Parks we regularly draft oral and written testimony to share at City Council Parks Committee Hearings.  We view these hearings as opportunities to build a case for increased funding for parks, advocate for programming and call for more park staff.

But why?

The public input process allows citizens to directly inform our elected officials. The truth is that feedback from constituents can shape the decisions made by our City Council. Furthermore, participating in the public process helps to ensure transparency- the more our officials hear from voters in their districts, the more likely they are to act.

Where do I start?

1) Find out who represents you at : http://council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml

The City Council website provides the address of your member’s legislative office, district office, email address and relevant phone numbers

2) Sign up for the NYC Council E-Newsletter to find out about upcoming hearings: http://council.nyc.gov/html/action/enews.shtml

3) Regularly check the NYC Legistar portal for calendar of hearings by committee: http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx

Oversight vs. Legislative Hearings

There are two types of hearings:

Oversight hearings allow the Council to convene agency officials to be questioned on a given topic. These hearings give the Council an opportunity to dig deeper into the roles and responsibilities of various city agencies, programs and projects and can be a platform for longer-term strategy around funding or future legislation.

Legislative hearings provide the Council with the chance to introduce new legislation and discuss the impact of proposed bills. Agencies, experts, advocates and members of the public are encouraged to attend these hearings to weigh in on the impact any given legislation will have.

How do I get to a hearing?

Once you find out which hearing you want to attend from Legistar, make sure to look up directions to the meeting. Most hearings are held at either City Hall or 250 Broadway, a city building across from City Hall Park. Arrive early and prepare to go through airport style security. Be sure to tell the security officials your purpose and destination. Once you enter into the room, you will need to find the Sergeant-at-Arms who is the city employee who will check you in. Depending on the hearing, you may be asked if you are in favor or against the given topic. The Sergeant-at-Arms will call you up to speak when it is your turn to provide public input.

What happens during a hearing?

First, the City Council Committee members will ask questions of program officials and agency staff. These officials will present their prepared testimony and participate in a Q & A with the councilmembers. Next begins the public comment period. This is the opportunity for organizations, like NY4P, and individuals, like you, to speak. The Sergeant-at-Arms will call on you.

How should I prepare my testimony?

A few pieces of advice. Keep it tight! Generally public comments are restricted to 2 minutes. Be sure to state your case early on so you don’t run out of time- we recommend you practice reading your statement in advance with a timer. It’s important to tell the Council which neighborhood you are from, how many residents you represent, and what kind of programming your community organization offers. Incorporate your community into your testimony by telling the elected officials that their decision is going to have an impact on more than just one resident.  Finally, bring 20 printed copies of your testimony to the hearing. These will be distributed to City Council members and assure that your testimony is officially submitted on the record.

What should I expect out of the hearing?

City Council members have very busy schedules and may not be able to stay for the duration of the hearing. This does not mean that they won’t hear your testimony, but it is a good reason to remember to print and bring along copies. Remember, hearings are not a trial, but rather an opportunity to better understand a topic by listening to what expert organizations and community members have to say. Your opinion will help shape the decision-making process that takes place after the hearings.

Next steps?

NY4P provides lots of resources to park advocates and community groups in order to empower our advocate network. One of our greatest resources is our Advocacy Guide, created by NY4P with Partnerships for Parks and the Center for Urban Pedagogy. This guide is available in English and Spanish and maps out how to get funding for the parks and public spaces in your neighborhoods. It is available as a PDF download on our website and we are also happy to mail physical copies to you and your community members. NY4P will continue to host informational webinars to provide our constituents with the tools they need to advocate for their public spaces. Finally, we host borough meetings each winter to gather park users together in one space to think deeply about how we can shape the next fiscal year’s budget and upcoming mayoral and City Council elections.

Step One

Click here to sign up for our newsletter to receive information about upcoming borough meetings, webinars, council hearings and other NY4P events. 

Meet A New Yorker for Parks: Ana Traverso-Krejcarek

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

“When you're in these parks, you don’t even need to measure the air to know it’s polluted,” Ana Traverso-Krejcarek says while walking through the three small parks straddling the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in South Williamsburg. “This neighborhood has one of the highest rates of asthma in the city. And these are some of the only open spaces that this community has. So even though people want to get outside, and engage in healthy activity, it comes at a cost.”

As the Project Manager for the Green Light District, Ana spends a lot of time in these spaces, working with the community members who use and depend on these parks. The Green Light District is a ten year initiative of El Puente, a thirty year old social justice organization with deep roots in the local community. The initiative seeks to sustain, grow, and green Williamsburg’s South Side, and addressing its lack of quality open space is one of its main areas of action.

Environmental justice has been a core issue for El Puente from the beginning. In the 1990s the “Toxic Avengers,” a group of young environmental activists from El Puente, were instrumental in uniting with the local Hasidic community to stop the city from building a massive garbage incinerator in Williamsburg. Most of the trees in the south side were planted by El Puente years ago. The environmental activism lives on today with the national Latino Climate Action Network, and the locally-focused Green Light District.

To address park inequity, and to empower young people to understand and advocate for their open spaces, NY4P is working with Ana to educate El Puente’s Summer Youth Employment Program participants to gather and analyze data on their park spaces. They’re observing park conditions, and developing an understanding of why such conditions exist.

“The NY4P methods help people understand their open space better. They see what makes it healthy, and unhealthy. They see it with a more critical eye, and they can appreciate it better,” Ana explains. “It’s easy to take things for granted, but the more informed you are the more you can contribute to fighting for positive changes.”

“One of the most eye-opening things participants learned about was the 311 app. It’s a great tool to use for creating active citizenship,” Ana says, referring to NYC’s mobile app and phone service that connects New Yorkers with city government. The participants notified the city about trash and other maintenance issues that needed to be addressed, many of them using 311 for the first time.

“We also reached out to the parks manager to let them know what we’re doing. Now they know that the community is paying attention, but also that we are willing to help. We’re trying to get government to work with citizens, and the other way around.”

The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway cuts directly through the neighborhood, and both it and the Williamsburg Bridge funnel heavy traffic through the neighborhood every day. Most of the few green spaces in the neighborhood are right next to the expressway, exposing users to highly-polluted air.

In addition to studying open space, the young people at El Puente are also collecting air quality data, and will combine them to make a data-based argument for improved green space. “When our students tested the air quality, they found the particulate matter was five times higher than the average for this area of Brooklyn,” Ana notes.

“We need better open spaces to clean the air. Without clean air, we’re condemning families to live with huge costs,” Ana explains. Particularly for low- and middle-income families, the effects of asthma can go far beyond decreased health: there’s financial strain caused by health bills and lost wages, educational setbacks due to missed school, and the psychological burden of living with a chronic, and preventable, illness. The local Latino population is also suffering from higher than average rates of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. All of these issues make the need for quality parkland and open space especially pressing. “It’s a big matter of equity.”

As an urban planner with experience working with arts and culture organizations, working at El Puente with the Green Light District is a perfect fit for Ana. She believes in the work they do, and understands the power of data to affect change. “People deserve to have good parks, to have healthy places to take their children. And we need scientific data to support our case.”

One of the biggest changes El Puente is advocating for is the BQ Green, an ambitious project that would create new parkland by building over two blocks of the sunken Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The proposed project includes a baseball field, playgrounds, a lawn area for soccer and other activities, a pool, and a community center.

With an estimated cost of $100 million, the folks at El Puente and in the community know that making the BQ Green a reality won’t be easy. But they also know that quality open space isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity that all communities deserve. They’re working with Council Member Antonio Reynoso, the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn, the climate action group Mothers Out Front, and local community members to push for the park’s creation. In February 2017 they’re launching a campaign, and will step up the push to make the new open space a reality.

NY4P and the National Park Service to Honor Victims of 9/11 by Planting 3,000 Daffodil Bulbs on Ellis Island

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

New Yorkers for Parks and the National Park Service (NPS) are honoring the 15th anniversary of 9/11 by planting three thousand daffodil bulbs on Ellis Island as part of the NY4P Daffodil Project. The planting will take place on Friday, October 14th from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm. The Project started in the fall of 2001 to serve as a living memorial to the lives lost in the attack, and to offer hope and beauty to the grieving city. Since then, over six million free bulbs have been planted citywide by more than 100,000 young students, parks and gardening groups, civic organizations, corporate volunteers and other New Yorkers. The Daffodil Project is one of the largest volunteer efforts in the city’s history.

Joining NY4P and NPS at the planting will be 36 volunteers from Ernst & Young as part of their “EY Connect Day” program, where employees volunteer with classrooms, community centers, and nonprofits such as NY4P.

“This is the perfect way to celebrate the resilience and perseverance of New Yorkers,” said Tupper Thomas, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks. “When spring comes to New York, visitors to Ellis Island will see Lower Manhattan - once the site of unbelievable destruction, now full of vitality - while surrounded by thousands of bright yellow daffodils symbolizing hope and renewal. It’s a testament to the power of New Yorkers, and the power of our parks.”

“As the National Park Service celebrates its centennial anniversary, the Daffodil Project is a great way to connect New Yorkers with more of their parks,” said Joshua Laird, Commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor. “Ellis Island symbolizes hope, freedom, and opportunity. And for the 12 million immigrants that passed through its doors, it was a new beginning.  The national parks belong to the public and are places where people can go to not only connect with nature and history, but also to find companionship, healing, and hope. We are grateful to New Yorkers for Parks for bringing this program to Ellis Island.”

In 2007 Mayor Michael Bloomberg named the daffodil the official flower of New York City, stating, “The Daffodil Project makes the City a more beautiful place every year, and brings us all together by serving as a living memorial to the victims of September 11th."

For more information contact Megan Douglas at 212-838-9410 ex.310, or mdouglas@ny4p.org

NY4P names Lynn B. Kelly as Executive Director

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


New Yorkers for Parks (NY4P), the citywide advocate for parks and open space, today announced that its Board of Directors has named Lynn B. Kelly as the organization’s new Executive Director. Kelly is currently the CEO and President of Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden in Staten Island, a role which she has held since 2010. She officially starts on December 1 and will succeed outgoing Executive Director Tupper Thomas, who announced her plans to retire earlier this year.

“We are thrilled to welcome Lynn Kelly to New Yorkers for Parks,” said Joel Steinhaus, Chairman of New Yorkers for Parks. “NY4P has evolved over the past century to fit the context of our city. Today, pressures of density, affordability and equity make sufficient investment in our parks and open spaces complicated and challenging. Now, more than ever, our city needs a strong advocate for open space, and we believe Lynn can be that voice.”

“As a lifelong New Yorker, and native of Staten Island, I have always wanted to make this city better for all New Yorkers,” said Kelly. “This opportunity allows me to use my varied experiences, skills and networks to build a stronger case for parks and open space. Parks and open space are essential urban infrastructure, and we have to start talking about this issue through that lens, including health, economic development, and social justice.”

Combining strong business acumen and public sector experience with a passion for helping to strengthen her community and New York City, Kelly led the revitalization of Snug Harbor over the past six years. Most recently, she successfully led the charge to increase baseline operational funding for the institution in the city budget, while also executing a master agreement with the city – something which had not been accomplished in over a decade.

Snug Harbor, a distinguished Smithsonian affiliate, provides programming in horticulture, agriculture and the visual and performing arts, and attracts over 500,000 visitors to its 83-acre Staten Island campus annually. Today, Kelly oversees the operational and managerial needs of this nationally recognized site, which is comprised of 26 buildings (five of which are historical landmarks), 350,000 square feet of space, two and a half miles of roads, a two and a half-acre farm, and eight diverse botanical gardens.

“I am very pleased that Lynn has agreed to join this important organization,” said Thomas. “As someone who has devoted her career to working to improve our parks and open spaces, I am so encouraged NY4P was able to find someone like Lynn. She understands the critical importance of these issues to the success of our city, and I look forward to helping her transition into leading the organization.”

Prior to Snug Harbor, Kelly worked as a Senior Vice President at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). During the last three of her ten years at the NYCEDC, she also served as the President of the Coney Island Development Corporation. Kelly led the redevelopment of Coney Island, establishing the first ground-up amusement park in more than 50 years from start-to-finish in 100 days, a feat which illustrates her efficient and results-oriented leadership style. Because of her work, an amusement ride, Lynn’s Trapeze, was named after her at Coney Island’s Luna Park in 2010.

A tireless champion of her city’s causes, Kelly has a demonstrated facility with navigating the intricacies of New York City government and has skillfully developed relationships with various constituencies – from lawmakers to artists to business groups, governmental and quasi-governmental agencies, and civic and community stakeholders. Her dedication to public service has been evident throughout her impressive career, which began when she was a graduate student and served as Deputy Director of the Art Commission of the City of New York, in City Hall.

Kelly received a B.A. in Metropolitan Studies from New York University’s College of Arts and Sciences and a Master of Public Administration in public policy from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of NYC & Co., where she is also the Chair of the Culture and Attractions Committee. She is also a board member of the NYCEDC, serving on its Real Estate and Finance Committee.

Register for Free Daffodil Project Bulbs

Monday, August 15, 2016
Registration is open for free 2016 Daffodil Project bulbs! Bulbs are available to groups and individuals planting them in a public space such as a park, community garden, or public plaza. Registration ends Monday, September 5th at midnight, so sign-up today!

Meet a New Yorker for Parks: Eileen Remor

Monday, August 15, 2016

 


“After 9/11, people needed parks. They needed a place to gather, and they wanted to help the city. The Daffodil Project gave them a way to do that.”

Eileen Remor, Director of Arsenal Operations for NYC Parks, has been involved with the Daffodil Project since its inception in fall of 2001, when NYC Parks came together with New Yorkers for Parks to heal a grieving city. Eileen and other Parks staff, including then-Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, had the idea to do a big bulb planting to honor the victims of 9/11. They soon found out that NY4P board member Lynden Miller was thinking the same thing – she was planning a large-scale daffodil bulb planting.

“I have a theory,” Eileen says, “that a good sign of a great idea is when multiple people have it at the same time.”

When NYC Parks and NY4P officially announced the Project and opened it up to volunteers they were overwhelmed with responses. That fall they planted over 1.5 million daffodil bulbs with the help of 10,000 volunteers.

Eileen began working in the parks world in 1999, at Partnerships for Parks, a joint program of NYC Parks and the City Parks Foundation. As an Outreach Coordinator she worked directly with local community members and organizations, helping them to improve and steward their open spaces. She saw firsthand how empowering it is for individuals to engage with their parks in a physical, tangible way.

“After 9/11, people needed parks. They needed a place to gather. And they wanted to help the city. The Daffodil Project gave them a way to do that.”

When asked what the most exciting moments of the Project have been, Eileen talks about the ways she’s seen it help individuals in deeply personal ways.

Eileen coordinated a planting event with an NYC firehouse that was hosting Slovakian Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda. PM Dzurinda was in town to run the NYC Marathon, but also made time to visit the firehouse of a Slovakian-American firefighter who died on 9/11. “At the event there was one man in particular who was very passionate about the planting, taking a lot of joy in it,” Eileen recalls. It wasn’t until years later that she learned that the man’s brother, a firefighter, was also killed in the attacks.

“When I’m riding the bus in the spring and I hear people around me exclaiming, ‘Look at how beautiful those flowers are!’ it makes me feel really good,” Eileen says. “Even if they don’t know who’s planting them, people benefit from having that beauty in their lives.”

With over 17 years working for NYC Parks, and a front-row seat for much of the Daffodil Project, Eileen has a clear vision of how the Project can benefit the city. She emphasizes how it helps children by teaching them about 9/11 and how New Yorkers came together in the aftermath. “With the Project kids see firsthand how powerful it is, and how parks can help people heal. If they experience tragedy or loss in their own lives, they know that they have ways of healing.”

“I grew up in New Jersey, near the Jersey Shore. I have lived in New York since January, 1988. Prior to 9/11, I had fantasies about moving to Hawaii or San Francisco,” Eileen explained. “But as a result of the attacks on 9/11, I was determined to remain in my beloved city and help make it come back stronger and better than ever.”

“New Yorkers never forget our own.”

Bushwick Inlet Park: Let's Get it Done

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Mayor de Blasio made a very generous offer of $100 million to Norm Brodsky to purchase the last piece of property necessary to complete Bushwick Inlet Park. Yet with only 19 days until the offer expires, Mr. Brodsky still has not accepted it.

The city promised the park to the community as part of the 2005 rezoning which brought about a huge increase in the population of Williamsburg. 11 years later, the city is making good on its promise. With this deal Mr. Brodsky stands to make a significant return on his original investment, and the community will get the open space they need.

This parkland is not a luxury. Using our Open Space Index methodology, New Yorkers for Parks found that the total open space in Community District 1 is sufficient for around 85,000 people - just under half the current population.  Even a fully built-out Bushwick Inlet Park, as proposed, provides only 60% of the amount of open space that Community District 1 residents need. With many hundreds more residential units soon to come, the completion of this park becomes even more imperative.

If Bushwick Inlet Park is not fully built, it will set a terrible precedent for the city. Communities across New York are facing significant increases in population that will put greater strain on existing open spaces. Without the creation of new, quality parkland, these communities will suffer.

We applaud the city for making good on its promise, and we encourage Mr. Brodsky to accept the offer. If we truly care about New York communities and neighborhoods, we must make sure they have the open space they need to thrive.