News

A New Year's Message From Lynn Kelly

Tuesday, January 09, 2018


As a life-long New Yorker, I’ve always known how important parks and open spaces are to New York. But over my first year at NY4P, as I walked through parks across all the boroughs, and heard New Yorkers tell me why these spaces are essential to their well-being, I’ve come to understand that this city, as wonderful as it is, would not be a great city without great parks. 

This past year I visited Prospect Park countless times whether on a walk or strapping on my skates for Lola Star’s Dreamland Roller Disco at Lakeside Center. I went jogging on the Coney Island Boardwalk, walked the High Line on the coldest day of 2017, planted daffodils in Staten Island, took in a soccer game at the Red Hook ball fields, spent a lazy summer Saturday on the beach in Rockaway and explored Mill Pond Park – and this was all just for fun! 

I also spoke with New Yorkers who told me about their local open spaces, sometimes with great pride, sometimes frustration, and often a mixture of both. I learned how these spaces mean so many different things to different people, and yet the need for them remains constant across the city.  

Even though most New Yorkers would agree that we all need access to quality parks open space, we can’t count on it without organizations like NY4P. Even as some neighborhoods are already suffering a severe lack of open space, others are straining under the weight of increased development. 

We are seeing open space competing with other important civic needs such as affordable housing and schools, as if New Yorkers don’t need them all. As I said in the New York Times last week, “To continue to minimize one over the other creates this impression to New Yorkers that parks and open space are an amenity as opposed to critical city infrastructure, just like a school and just like affordable housing.” To force New Yorkers to pick and choose creates a false choice, and a narrative that only enables inequity in our city. 

That’s what all my work this past year and the efforts of my team have come down to – standing up for parks and open space as critical city infrastructure. And it’s this principle that is leading our work at NY4P. 

We’re not backing away from the big, complicated, and sometimes thorny issues facing our city: securing open space as a part of neighborhood rezonings, the ongoing battle for an adequate parks budget, and parks equity. 

To strengthen our push for an equitable parks system in NYC, we’re making ourselves more accessible by continuing to increase our outreach and engagement with communities across the city, and translating more of our materials into Spanish and Simplified Chinese. 

We’re also taking a deeper look at the many different purposes our open spaces serve. This past year we’ve seen at least 640 rallies, demonstrations, protests and other civic actions take place in our city’s public places, attended by almost 650,000 people. Whenever I see these numbers, I’m reminded again that parks aren’t a luxury – they’re the architecture that supports civic engagement and assembly. 

My first year at NY4P has made me love New York even more – something I didn’t know was possible! – and I have an even deeper understanding of how parks are the true soul of a city.

Go parks!


Lynn

Our Annual Report is Here!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Looking back on what we accomplished in fiscal year 2017, it's clear how much of our success is due to community leaders, industry professionals, generous supporters, and everyone working on behalf of NYC open space. Read our annual report and see what we achieved. 

Congratulations to NY4P Vice Chair Betsy Smith!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Left to Right: Executive Director Lynn Kelly; Board Chair Joel Steinhaus; Board Vice Chair Betsy Smith

Congratulations to NY4P's Vice Chair of the Board Betsy Smith on her new position as president and chief executive of the Central Park Conservancy! Betsy is a tireless champion of parks and open spaces and her knowledge and leadership has been invaluable for NY4P. She will be a great leader of the Central Park Conservancy and its Institue for Urban Parks. 

You can read more about Betsy here.

Open Space Dialogues: Development + Design

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


On December 11th we had the honor of convening experts in the fields of park development and design for a forward-looking and exciting conversation about how open space fits into a rapidly growing and developing city. The second in a series of four panel discussions, Open Space Dialogues: New Perspectives on Development + Design, featured Susan Chin of the Design Trust for Public Space; Bonnie Campbell of Two Trees Management; Wendy Feurer of the NYC Department of Transportation; NYC Council Member Brad Lander; Purnima Kapur of the NYC Department of City Planning; and Dave Barry of Urby in a discussion moderated by Claire Weisz of WXY architecture + urban design. We look forward to continuing the dialogue with our third Open Space Dialogue in February which will explore financing and policy options for improving delivery of open space to all neighborhoods. Stay tuned for more information.

You can read about the first in our series, Open Space Dialogues: A New Perspective in Value, here.

The Open Space Dialogues are supported by The Rockefeller Foundation. 

Thank You for Partying 4 Parks!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Thank you to everyone who partied with us at the 2017 Party 4 Parks! It was an evening of fun and inspiration, and we couldn't have done it without you. We received record in-room pledges, exceeding our challenge goal for the night and raising over $30,000 from attendees! Thank you to everyone who showed your support for parks and open spaces!  

Check out pictures from the 2017 Party 4 Parks. 

Educating the Next Generation of Open Space Stewards

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


This fall we're working with educators in every borough, teaching public school students how to plant and tend daffodils. Altogether we'll work with 50 students, many of whom will go on to be a part the next generation of open space stewards and advocates. We're also working with over 50 volunteers from NYC & Co. and Con Edison to bring daffodils to public spaces around the city.



We work to ensure that all young people in NYC get to experience the sense of accomplishment and pride that comes from beautifying their community. That's why every school we work with has a high percentage of students who qualify for free lunch. Beautiful open space should be accessible to everyone regardless of income. 



We're also working with volunteers from Con Edison and NYC & Company to plant daffodils and clean up open spaces across the city. If your corporate group would like to get involved, contact Michelle Velez, Development Manager at mvelez@ny4p.org, or at 212-838-9410 ex 315.

2017 General Election: Where the Candidates Stand

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

In October 2017 we sent our Public Realm Bill of Rights for New York City to candidates running for elected office on the general election ballot across the city, and asked for their responses to four questions about the bill: Which article of the Public Realm Bill of Rights for NYC speaks to you the most, and why? What is your favorite park or open space in your district? How can it be improved and why? What do you consider to be the most pressing park or open space need in your community, and what is your plan to address it? 

Their answers show what open space issues the candidates see as most pressing, and how they think those issues should be addressed. We're sharing their responses here so that voters can make an informed choice when they cast their ballots in the in the general election on Tuesday, November 7th.  

Click here to see the candidates' responses. If you're unsure of what council district you live in, you can find out here. To find your polling place, click here.

Action Alert: You can help save a NYC park!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Save Marx Brothers Playground

In August, New Yorkers for Parks sent a sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo urging him to veto two bills that would take away a playground in park-poor East Harlem and pave the way for it to be redeveloped as a 68-story residential tower. This neighborhood is already suffering the consequences of insufficient open space: area residents are hospitalized for asthma at twice the citywide rate, and have higher than average rates of diabetes and obesity.

The Governor is expected to decide this week whether to sign these bills, which would set a dangerous precedent for the alienation of parkland city-wide.

We need your help! 


What You Can Do

Call Governor Cuomo's Office Today
(518) 474-8390
When prompted, press (1) to leave a message.

Talking points:

I urge Governor Cuomo to veto S.6721 and A.8419, two bills that set a dangerous precedent for the protection of parkland city-wide.

Removing the protections for East Harlem's Marx Brothers Playground would dispossess a community that is already underserved by open space. 

Parks are essential to the health and welfare of New Yorkers, and should be treated as such as our city grows.

New York is expected to grow by more than 500,000 residents in the next twenty years; to be a healthy, thriving city we need more parkland and more housing. 

Spread the Word

Use social media, email, and good old conversation to tell your neighbors, friends, family, and colleagues that this is happening. It’s not too late to have our voices heard

Thank you to The Municipal Art Society of New York, the Trust for Public Land, and Carnegie Hill Neighbors for helping to draw attention to this important issue. 

Valuing Open Space

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Madelyn Wils of the Hudson River Park Trust, Amy Freitag of The J.M. Kaplan Fund, and Joshua Laird of National Parks of New York Harbor at the Open Space Dialogues: A New Perspective in Value

Parkies and open space advocates already know that open spaces are valuable. But how do we talk about the value of these spaces to those who don’t speak the same technical language that we do? Are there ways of valuing open spaces that we haven’t thought of, that we aren’t measuring? How can we better enumerate or describe the varied and diverse benefits that our open spaces provide?

Seeking answers to these questions, NY4P partnered with WXY architecture + design to convene thought leaders in parks, planning, economic development, and government to talk about parks and open space, and more specifically the value of open space. The first of a four-part series, Open Space Dialogues: A New Perspective in Value brought together New York City Council Member and Parks Committee Chair Mark Levine; Kate Collignon of HR&A Advisors; Kei Hayashi of BJH Advisors; Amy Freitag of The J.M. Kaplan Fund; Madelyn Wils of the Hudson River Park Trust; Joshua Laird of National Parks of New York Harbor; and Weisz of WXY architecture + design. 

What proceeded was an in-depth and detailed discussion, but we’ve distilled it down the main consensus points that emerged. You’ll see that while everyone agreed that parks are essential city infrastructure and should be treated as such, their unique perspectives painted a picture of what we need to do to understand and convey the true value of parks today. Below are potential metrics and questions raised by the panelists. 

What are some new ways of measuring the true value parks?

  • Valuation should be done in a way that prevents displacement. We need to develop metrics that measure the relevance of a park to an existing community.
  • New metrics we should consider might include measuring calories burned in parks, or other health indicators.
  • Safety and community comfort should be factors in any measure of accessibility. 
  • How should we value community engagement that comes from open space and parks programming? What role does parks programming play in youth development?

Everyone likes parks, so why is it so hard to get adequate funding?

  • Parks have health, community, and economic benefits, so why are they still undervalued? What can NY4P's advocacy do to address this?
  • Politics and community organizing are key to getting more funding.
  • There is a need for multiple voices in the open space community to come together as one. Perhaps NY4P can lead the charge.
  • We need to show city government and elected officials that maintenance funding is just as important as capital. Sometimes properly maintaining a park provides just as many benefits as building a new one.

The next panel, Open Space Dialogues: A New Perspective in Development + Design, will take place in December. Stay tuned for more information.

The Open Space Dialogues are supported by The Rockefeller Foundation. 

Honoring Doug Blonsky at the Party 4 Parks

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


This year we are delighted to honor Doug Blonsky, President & CEO of the Central Park Conservancy, at our 2017 Party 4 Parks. Doug has been with the Conservancy for over thirty years, playing a key role in its restoration from a place of neglect to the world-renowned public park masterpiece it is today. 

We’re especially excited to celebrate the Central Park Conservancy Institute for Urban Parks, which Doug established in 2013 to ensure the sustainability of Central Park and the Conservancy, as well as to provide assistance, training, and on-site support to current and aspiring park professionals. The Institute shares the knowledge and passion of the Conservancy’s team with people across from across the world, and across the five boroughs. 

The Institute’s Park to Park program provides direct assistance and education to parks all over New York City, including gardening, site assessment, visitor engagement, and turf care. The Five Borough Program performs improvements to NYC parks as a way to build skills and knowledge. By bringing their expertise directly to our city’s parks the Institute supports the employees and volunteers who are the backbone of a healthy park system. 

Doug understands that great parks make a great city, and has put this into action for the betterment of Central Park and neighborhood parks across the city that are just as beloved by the communities who use them. For this reason we are proud to honor Doug at this year’s Party 4 Parks.