Rendering: NYC Parks
The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has a vision of creating more open parks that integrate seamlessly with their neighborhoods — and they have a $50 million commitment from the City to accomplish it.
The initiative is called “Parks Without Borders,” and it’s made possible by One NYC, the City’s 10-year master plan focusing on growth, equity, resiliency and sustainability. Parks Without Borders hopes that by changing the perimeters of parks, more people will be able to enjoy the city’s underused spaces.
Eight new parks projects will be transformed, based on community feedback. NYC Parks has launched a user-friendly web portal where visitors can select specific park boundaries on a topographic map. From there, users can give feedback on how to improve that particular boundary. Suggestions will be accepted through February 2016.
Examples of changes may include landscaping, paving, entrance/exit changes, activities/programming and site furnishings like community seating or game centers. The Department’s primary goal is to make parks more accessible and welcoming. They hope to integrate park beauty into their communities and to transform underused areas to get the most out of public space.
Historically, NYC parks have developed with clearly defined borders for traffic flow, public safety, landscape protection, and simply as ornamentation. But as times changed, this tradition did not follow suit.
For example, Bowling Green, NYC’s oldest park first became City property in 1686. At that time, the property was developed with grass, trees, and a wooden fence “…for the beauty & ornament of the said street as well as for the recreation and delight of the inhabitants of [the] city.” In 1771, after the park was vandalized and its statue of King George III was stolen, an elaborate iron fence was added. That iron fence still stands today and is a designated City landmark.
NYC Parks will give preference to projects that get the most community support — especially from community groups. They will favor proposals that create more points of entry for the parks, and they will select projects that have the greatest potential based on current location, layout and condition.