Ten parks a year for ten years will be redesigned and transformed. On October 26, 2021, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff announced that $425.5 million will be invested in the Community Parks Initiative over the next ten years. The Community Parks Initiative (CPI) renovates and redesigns community parks, usually in high-density, low-income areas, that have previously been neglected in past administrations. Parks that have received less than $250,000 in investment over the past 20 years are also a part of the initiative. Sixty-seven parks have been redesigned since the program launched in 2014.
The funding will allow for the redesign of ten parks per year for the next ten years. The following parks and playgrounds are the first ten to be rebuilt:
The Bronx: Chief Dennis L. Devlin Park (Unionport); Pontiac Playground (Port Morris); Horseshoe Playground (Longwood).
Brooklyn: Jerome Playground (East New York); Marc and Jason’s Playground (Prospect Lefferts Gardens).
Manhattan: Anibal Aviles Playground (Manhattan Valley); Detective Omar Edwards Park (East Harlem); William McCray Playground (Harlem).
Queens: Hoffman Park (Elmhurst).
Staten Island: Lt. Lia Playground (St. George).
Residents in Community Parks Initiative Zones will have the opportunity to engage with the Parks Department to help with the design through community input sessions. Partnerships for Parks works with stakeholders around Community Parks Initiative sites to build community partners to sustain the constructed parks. Since 2014, the Parks Department and Partnerships for Parks have worked with nearly 54,000 volunteers in over 2,000 stewardship projects in Community Parks Initiative zones.
Mayor de Blasio stated, “Our recovery must focus on communities historically left behind, and the Community Parks Initiative is a great example of how to do just that. This $425 million investment will improve open space in communities across the five boroughs for years to come. I want to thank Commissioner Fialkoff and everyone at NYC Parks for prioritizing equity in their stewardship of our incredible parks system.”
Commissioner Fialkoff stated, “With nearly a billion dollars invested in underserved community parks and hard hit COVID neighborhoods through the Community Parks Initiative, Mayor de Blasio’s equity legacy will live on for generations. We have changed the way we approach neighborhood parks, with renewed focus on equity, community, and partnership. CPI has touched the lives of more than a half a million New Yorkers already, by transforming 67 parks that had been overlooked for decades. With this commitment to fund an additional 100 new CPI sites over the next ten years, we are making permanent our City’s commitment to a fair and equitable park system.”
Council Member Peter Koo, Chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation stated, “Throughout the pandemic, neighborhood parks were there as a place of refuge where residents could relax, exercise, and decompress from the stress of the lockdown, but many smaller parks lack the funding they need to ensure their longevity. Expanding resources for CPI will ensure lower income, high density areas will have access to the funding they need to renovate and reconstruct their facilities, many of which have experienced decades of underinvestment and have fallen into a state of disrepair.”
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)