A City Rich in Parks with Patches of Orange and Red

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Concrete Jungle isn’t in Manhattan. It’s in southeastern Queens, Staten Island and southern Brooklyn.

Those are places that have “park deserts,” according to an analysis released Thursday by the nonprofit Trust for Public Land that showed areas more than a half-mile from a park.

But in general, the analysis showed that a tremendous proportion of the city – 97 percent – was within a 10-minute walk from a park.

The result is a map of New York City that is nearly all green, with limited splotches of yellow and red, colors the Trust used to denote areas without easy access to parks.

“It’s not a glass half-empty at all,” said Adrian Benepe, senior vice president of the Trust. “It’s a glass that’s nearly full. When you look at the other cities, you see cities that are almost entirely in orange and red.”

Green areas are within a 10 minute walk of a park, while orange areas are further away. Red areas are also further than 10 minutes from a park and have high population density or other exacerbating factors such as poverty or high numbers of young people. (Trust for Public Land.)

Benepe, said part of the city’s success was due to a push by the Bloomberg administration to renovate public school grounds and open them up to the public during non-school hours. Benepe served as New York City’s parks commissioner under Mayor Michael Bloomberg from 2002 to 2012. In 2007, the city committed to making sure every New Yorker lived within a half-mile of a park in large part because the Trust had popularized that measure as a standard of optimal park access, Benepe said.

Also on Thursday, the Trust for Public Lands ranked New York City as the second best city for parks in the country for the second year in a row, after Minneapolis. New York also scored well in terms of park funding and some other measures. The median size of New York’s parks, however, was 1.1 acres, about a sixth of the average 6.0 acres for the 60 cities that the Trust surveyed.

To some extent, park deserts are located in relatively leafy neighborhoods of single family homes – but not all. Dense areas such as Jackson Heights, Queens, also lack parks because of a lack of foresight, Benepe said.

“Because there was a lot of unplanned development, where the shots were being called by real estate developers, neighborhoods were developed without thinking about parks,” he said.


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Comments [3]

Adrian Benepe from NYC

In response to the first issue, Privately Owned Public Spaces, or POPS, which are the bonus plazas surrounding some tall buildings, are not counted as parks. you also will not find a Parks Dept. logo on the wall next to them, as they are under the jurisdiction of the city Planning Department.

The Trust for Public Land Parkscore does not include POPS, open space around public housing (which is considerable), college campuses, or cemeteries, in its analysis of park space for park score. It also does not count school playgrounds except those that have been formally opened to the public after school and on weekends. While there are at least 10,000 acres of natural parkland in NYC, and thousands more of lawns and other green space, hard-surface parks and playgrounds are essential for things like playgrounds, basketball and tennis and handball courts,etc.

In response to Carol from Union Square, I am very proud of the 800-plus acres of parkland and 800,000 trees added under Mayor Bloomberg, as well as the largest expansion and improvement of parks since the 1930s. With any luck, commissioner Silver will continue this aggressive program of park expansion and improvement, as there is much work yet to be done. I'm sorry you take such a negative view of things, always.

May. 29 2014 04:46 PM
Seth from Manhattan

For anyone who has lived in NYC, Benepe's findings are pretty laughable. As any new Yorker knows, ANYTHING can be, and is, called a "park." Often, a park is a concrete area surrounding, or in front of, a high rise tower, with a Parks Dept. plaque attached to the side of the building indicating this is a public park. Where true places for outdoor recreation exist, they are usually concrete surfaced, lacking grass or any exposed earth. A honest survey should make these distinctions.

May. 29 2014 09:52 AM
Carol from Union Square

Isn't Adrian Benepe supposed to refrain from lobbying and other encounters with NYC Parks, as the former head? It is his failures that led to the mess we are in in Parks, his constant privatization and inequitable funding schemes.

And the union square park pavilion turned into a restaurant epitomizes his approach.

His agency gave land and resources to trust for pubic land who then hired him.

I thought we wre rid of him, et him stay on the talking circuit on the west coast about all the green space yadda yadda yadda

May. 29 2014 07:28 AM

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