Meet a New Yorker for Parks

Lynn Rogers

December 16, 2011

In 1998, Lynn Rogers left her job as an insurance claims adjuster to devote herself full-time to the parks and open spaces of Staten Island, where her family had lived for seven generations.

“I just had too much energy to be doing that,” said Rogers. “It was time for a change.”

Rogers, 52, had always been interested in locating the missing grave of her great-grandmother, so she started her new career by taking over the helm of Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries, and set to work researching and restoring 19 Staten Island graveyards. One had become an illegal dumping ground. Another, a municipal parking lot.
“I had actually parked there many times,” she said. “I had no idea.”

Her work began to pay off when she secured City Council funding for the restoration, or partial uncovering, of all 19 lots. One, in Travis, dated to 1690 and was abandoned in 1880. All the cemeteries are now protected historic sites.

Along the way, her network of Staten Island advocates quickly broadened, and so did her work. Soon, she began bringing together her friends for park events – from poetry and spoken word readers, to pop-up artists, to living history actors, to farmers’ market purveyors. There’s hardly a park event in the borough that isn’t touched in some way by Rogers.

“Instead of just one group, with just a cleanup or bulb-planting, we create a big event,” she said.

This fall, Rogers and her network brought nearly 1,000 people to an Oktoberfest event in Tappan Park, in Stapleton. This winter, she hosted a tree-lighting. Rogers also frequently invites participants from On Your Mark, a Staten Island-based nonprofit that provides services for adults and children with disabilities, to events.

Now Rogers, a 2011 Staten Island Advance Women of Achievement honoree, is focused on her latest goal: the creation of a borough-wide parks coalition, which she hopes will comprise up to 20 Staten Island parks groups.

“Before I brought all the arts and cultural institutions together, we were all on our own and didn’t have one voice,” she said. “Now we’re all together and it’s made such a difference. I want there to be one voice speaking for all our parks, too. Every other borough has a parks coalition – why not Staten Island?”

Dorothea Poggi: Ferry Point Park West, Bronx
Phyllis Yampolsky: McCarren Park Pool, Brooklyn
Debra Meyers: Claremont Park & Mount Eden Malls, Bronx
Phil Hawkins: Brower Park, Brooklyn
In Memoriam: Greg Jackson: Brownsville Recreation Center, Brooklyn
Kamillah Hanks: Tappen Park, Staten Island
Pat Courtney: Isham Park, Manhattan
Rocco Bescia: Kaiser Park, Brooklyn
Lorita Watson: Williamsbridge Oval
Christine Murray: McCarren Park Dog Run
Kathleen Vorwick: Pouch Camp & Staten Island Greenbelt, Staten Island
Len Maniace: Jackson Heights Beautification Group, Queens
Martha Lopez-Gilpin: Astoria Park, Queens
Lucy Aponte: Soundview Park, Bronx
Lynn Rogers: Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries, Staten Island
Beverly McDermott: Kissena Park, Queens
In Memoriam: Evelyn Lauder: Citywide