On October 9, 2018, New York Law School hosted New Yorkers for Parks for their Open Space Dialogues: Parks & Transportation. The event was kicked off by Joel Steinhaus, Chairman of New Yorkers for Parks, who was introduced by Executive Director Lynn Kelly. Mr. Steinhaus began by welcoming everyone to the second year of Open Space Dialogues, with the focus of this year’s dialogues on parks, open space and the public realm. He stated that New Yorkers for Parks has been the “City’s independent champion of quality open space for all New Yorkers, across all five Boroughs; Well- maintained open spaces foster dialogue, support congregation and free expression, and are a critical component of democracy.” The focus of last night’s Open Space Dialogue was on the “intersection of parks and transportation”.
New York Law School Dean and President, Anthony Crowell, made remarks welcoming New Yorkers for Parks and expressed delight at the partnership between New York Law School and New Yorkers for Parks. He expressed appreciation for the continued development of long term relationships with such important civic organization as New Yorkers for Parks. Dean Crowell also thanked the organization for creating this series of dialogues that are “truly important to all of us and will make a difference in our understanding and the way we live.“
The presenters were Emily Weidenhof, Director of Public Space at the Department of Transportation, Laura Hansen, a public space advocate, Jessica Schumer, Executive Director of Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector. Responding, were Kate Slevin, Senior Vice President of Regional Plan Association, Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives, and Carter Strickland, the New York State Director of the Trust for Public Land. The dialogue was moderated by Dana Rubinstein, a Senior Reporter with Politico New York.
The presenters and respondents discussed many important issues, including how the City’s relationship to public space has evolved, the importance of maintaining public plazas and the effects that congestion pricing would have on access to public space. Among the topics was also how transportation system improvements can yield more open spaces, and how changing living patterns for New Yorkers, who are no longer living in the outer boroughs, has affected travel needs and how the City has responded, such as by introducing the Brooklyn-Queens Connector streetcar. To read prior CityLand coverage on the Brooklyn-Queens Connector streetcar, click here.
The event ended with closing remarks by Lynn Kelly. The next event will be on November 19th, 2018: Open Space Dialogues: From Vacant to Vibrant. The focus will be on looking at unusual park spaces, with guest speakers Michael Samuelian from the Trust for Governor’s Island and Dan Barasch to talk about the Lowline, among others.