New York City officials announced that eight parks will undergo substantial facelifts in an effort to make the spaces more welcoming to their neighborhoods and its residents, according to The New York Times.
Mitchell J. Silver, the city’s parks commissioner, said that besides lowering or removing the high chain link fences that surround these parks, there would also be new benches, greenery, and distinctive walkways installed, as well as treating the sidewalks that border parks as part of the parks themselves. Mr. Silver said that taking the fences down would create more sight lines along the edges of parks and actually make the areas safer.
As part of the plan, $40 million will be spent on the eight parks. The parks were chosen in a nomination process that included commentary from neighborhood residents, and about 690 of New York’s more than 1,700 parks were recommended for an overhaul.
“That’s proof positive of how excited New Yorkers are to increase accessibility and openness in their favorite parks,” he said in a statement.
Those selected were Seward Park on the Lower East Side of Manhattan; Faber Pool and Park on the North Shore of Staten Island; Jackie Robinson Park in northern Manhattan; Van Cortlandt Park and Hugh Grant Circle and Virginia Park in the Bronx; Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens; and Fort Greene and Prospect Parks, both in Brooklyn. The city has set a long-term goal of having 85 percent of New Yorkers living within walking distance of a park.
In the Parkchester neighborhood of the Bronx, Hugh Grant Circle is largely off-limits, blocked by a gate that is often locked, said Nilka Martell, a community activist who pressed for the Circle to be selected for the city program, called Parks without Borders. But she believes the park has potential to be a neighborhood hub, used for art installations and community programs and as a complement to a farmer’s market held nearby.
“None of these things would be possible with that fence there,” Ms. Martell said. “Lifting the fence creates all these ideas: How can we activate it? How can we use it?”
Carmel Gayle, 75, has seen her children and now grandchildren enjoy Jackie Robinson Park during the 43 years she has lived in the area. The park, she said, was already essential to the neighborhood. “We can’t do without this park,” she said. “Young people, everyone — we need this place.”
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