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Thread: NYC Parks

  1. #16
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    billyblancoNYC thanks for the interactive map of parks in lower manhattan. It is really interesting. cool! 8)

    I guess there are no more interactive maps in that website of other parts of the city.

  2. #17
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    Default New Parks and Improvements in the BX

    In exchange for the right to build a $1.4 billion water filtration plant underground in a large Bronx park, the city offered up $220 million in parks money for the borough. Nice to see, especially the Greenstreets and the waterfront access.

    Here's a detailed list of the improvements to come:

    http://www.nyc.gov/portal/index.jsp....1194&ndi=1

    Here's more info:
    http://nyc.gov/portal/index.jsp?epi....1194&ndi=1

    MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG AND GOVERNOR GEORGE E. PATAKI ANNOUNCE OVER $220 MILLION FOR BRONX PARKS

    Ratification of Memorandum of Understanding on Croton Filtration Plan Clears Way For Enormous Improvements in Parks Across the Bronx

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Governor George E. Pataki today announced more than $220 million worth of improvements for Bronx Parks will be made over the next five years.

    On Tuesday, the City Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the State that allows the City to move forward with the construction of a water filtration plant for the Croton Water Supply System under the Mosholu Golf Course in Van Cortlandt Park. As part of the agreement, more than $220 million generated from water and sewer revenue will be spent on improvements to Bronx Parks over the next five years. The agreement represents a rare opportunity to invest more than triple what would be spent on Bronx's parks over the next five years. Joining the Mayor and Governor at the event in Saint James Park in the Bronx were Assembly member Jose Rivera, Council Members Joel Rivera and Madeline Provenzano, Department of Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Christopher O. Ward.

    "This is a great day for the Bronx," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We are making an historic investment into Bronx Parks that generations of New Yorkers will be able to enjoy. Not since the days of the WPA will Bronx see more greening and improvements to its recreational areas. This has been a long tough road and I want to thank everyone who played a part in this important announcement. Particulary I want to express my gratitude to Governor Pataki, Assembly Speaker Silver, Senate Majority Leader Bruno, Council Speaker Miller, and Commissioners Ward & Benepe for their work on this project."

    "This multi-million dollar investment in parks projects will give the Bronx the green space that it deserves," said Governor Pataki. "Because of this agreement, recreational facilities will be improved, new waterfront parks will be developed, and neighborhood parks and playgrounds will be renovated throughout the borough. Thanks to a shared commitment with Mayor Bloomberg, the Bronx is receiving a great investment in its parks. By working together, we will continue to provide clean and safe drinking water for the people of New York while creating new and improved park and recreational space for Bronx families."

    "It brings me great joy to continue to build and beautify our parks so our children can enjoy them," said Assemblyman Jose Rivera.

    "Today marks an historic occasion," said Council Member Joel Rivera. "Bronx parks will receive over $220 million for beautification and restoration projects. Not only will this go a long way in beautifying our borough, it also assures safe, clean, and enjoyable parks for the people of the Bronx both young and old."

    The Bronx parks projects were identified after years of input from the community, and were finalized over the past year with the help of community groups, elected officials and Bronx residents. Collaboratively, the Parks Department focused on projects that would be a challenge to fund through the capital budget. The projects fall into five categories and include improving neighborhood parks, renovating regional recreation facilities, developing the Bronx Greenway, improving and expanding access to the Bronx waterfront, building and "greening" the borough. Highlights include:

    More than 20 neighborhood parks and playgrounds will be renovated with new play equipment, comfort stations, seating areas, fencing and landscaping. Major work at Story Park will include reconstruction of a playground and comfort station. Tremont Park will receive a new seating area for seniors, as well as a hard court game area.

    Regional recreation facilities, including ballfields, running tracks and tennis courts will be reconstructed or built throughout the borough. The Parade Grounds at Van Cortlandt Park will be reconstructed with new athletic fields, sod and drainage. Playgrounds, a track field, senior area and skate park will be reconstructed at Williamsbridge Oval Park.

    Waterfront parks will be developed along the Long Island Sound, East River and Harlem River. New waterfront space, including a Greenway link, will be developed at Pelham Bay Park, and environmental work will include the restoration of lagoons and salt marshes at Pugsley Creek Park and Soundview Park.

    Major sections of the Bronx Greenway, including the Hutchinson, Bronx River and Soundview to Ferry Point sections, will be completed. Work will include the restoration of existing parkland - including improving pathways and public access to parks and the waterfront - as well as transforming underutilized property into new parkland in areas with little open space. A new pedestrian bridge over the Bronx River Parkway and Bronx River will connect Shoelace Park and Muskrat Cove providing a major link in the Bronx River Greenway.

    A comprehensive program to "green" the borough will include the creation of new Greenstreets, improvement and expansion of horticultural plantings in parks and playgrounds, and the addition of street trees in under-served neighborhoods. Parks will also upgrade and expand the Bronx Green House and Nursery.

    The State will also establish a comprehensive Urban Forestry Program, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The program will further the greening of the Bronx, improve air quality, reduce ambient air temperatures, and help reduce energy costs and heat "island" effect by planting thousands of trees in parks, playgrounds, streets and other targeted areas of the borough.

  3. #18

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    October 6, 2004

    Next Subway Stop, the Wilderness

    By JOSEPH BERGER

    Who needs Yellowstone and Yosemite?

    New York City boasts its own constellation of national parks - all right, natural parks - 48 preserves of emerald tidal marsh, bouldered shoreline, ancient woodlands, gurgling creeks and tranquil kettle ponds where ospreys dive from the sky to snatch unwary fish and shrews stow away for the day under rotting tree trunks.

    A few of the sanctuaries are almost as pristine as they were when European explorers first gazed upon them in wonder, and, unlike those explorers, today's visitors can get there by subway.

    Four years ago, the 48 preserves were designated "Forever Wild" by the Department of Parks and Recreation to keep them from being turned into ball fields, golf courses, playgrounds and marinas. But officials have realized that New Yorkers who have flown to Yosemite and Yellowstone scarcely know about the wilds of Pelham Bay Park or Marine Park and even a few undomesticated spots in Central Park. And they may not care enough to keep them wild.

    So the department has decided to cultivate a constituency that will fight to safeguard its natural treasures.

    "Promotion is the greatest protection," said Mike Feller, the department's chief naturalist. "If people know about and come out and use these areas, they will protect them."

    On Oct. 16, the department will start a series of hikes and canoe trips through a few of the Forever Wild preserves. (Call 311 or consult www.nyc.gov/foreverwild.) Meanwhile, it has been running advertisements on buses and bus shelters inviting visitors to the preserves. "Wish You Were Here," one advertisement exults over a photograph of an idyllic marsh that looks like a Louisiana bayou, adding at the bottom: "WAIT! You ARE here!"

    Getting the preserves known is a matter of survival, parks officials and advocates say. Many New Yorkers prefer ball fields and golf courses instead of terrain fit only for strolling and contemplation, said Maura Lout, research director for New Yorkers for Parks, an advocacy group. Such a conflict surfaced several years ago in southern Staten Island when borough officials wanted to create ball fields out of a chunk of Bloomingdale Park for residents of new homes sprouting nearby, recalled Henry Stern, a former parks commissioner. With the borough so critical to the mayoral victories of both Rudolph W. Giuliani and Michael R. Bloomberg, the Parks Department lost the preservationist argument and ball fields were built.

    The 48 natural areas, which total 8,200 acres, almost a third of the city's 29,000 acres of parks, are protected by state law only as parkland, which can leave wiggle room for ball fields and playgrounds. But city officials do not want to try to pass a more stringent law, fearing a gantlet of political scrapes and restrictions on their freedom in unforeseen circumstances.

    "It has no legal force - it's a policy - and I suppose a future administration could undo it," said Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner. "But in addition to a policy, you have a constituency."

    Not all the protected natural areas are in their original state. Pretty as it is, Central Park is mostly a glorious fake -fabricated a century and a half ago from shantytowns and swampland. But nature has been allowed to take over some of the artificial handiworks, and now two places, the Hallett Nature Sanctuary and the North Woods ravine and "loch," have been designated Forever Wild.

    Much of Marine Park in Brooklyn, a lush expanse of tidal marsh surrounding a saltwater creek, was once landfill, the failed product of a plan to turn the coast of Brooklyn into another port. Now osprey wheel overhead looking to seize the fish that multiply in the briny creek.

    At least one preserve demonstrates how wild terrain wants to stay that way, defeating the best intentions to civilize it. In Forest Park in Queens, city officials four decades ago turned a swamp in a park hollow into a baseball field, but players found the field flooded regularly.

    Four years ago, officials surrendered to the inevitable and the field has returned to woodland kettle pond, with floating hearts - pads with small yellow flowers - covering much of its surface. King birds swoop low over the pond and toads trill along its edges. It would be hard to know that busy Woodhaven Boulevard is just behind a screen of birch, hickory, oak and maple.

    The other day, Mr. Benepe and Mr. Feller showed the pond off, then capered through the reeds like small boys, chasing a toad.

    "This is the flip side of 'If you build it, they will come,' which was said about a ball field," Mr. Benepe said. "If you take out the ball field, then toads and dragonflies will come."

    But Forever Wild does not mean entirely untamed. In Alley Pond Park in Queens, framed by three highways but rich with peat bogs and black locust forests, workers with buzz saws were cutting down Norway maples, intruders inhospitable to the park's insects and animals. They were also trimming away alien vines strangling native trees.

    "You can create wilderness," Mr. Feller said.

    Before the Forest Park visit, Mr. Feller took a reporter and photographer on a tour of the Hunter Island preserve in Pelham Bay Park. Peering through binoculars, he spotted an osprey riding a northwest wind.

    "They're hugging the shoreline and they'll make a left-hand turn over Westchester and the Bronx," he said. "They have runs of fish over the lagoon and start forming a holding pattern. I don't know of another site on the East Coast that gets that concentration of ospreys in the fall migration."

    Hunter Island, a former estate connected to Orchard Beach by landfill, is now largely a forest that slopes down to a shore strewn with boulders. Mr. Feller called it the southernmost example of rocky New England shoreline.

    "There are parts of Hunter Island that look pretty much as they would have when Europeans first stepped on the island," Mr. Feller said.

    Hiking through a mile-long woodland trail, Mr. Feller, a Brooklyn native who has become a spellbinding encyclopedia of natural facts, pointed out white snakeroot flowers, much like those some historians blame for the death of Lincoln's mother. (She may have died drinking milk from cows that grazed in patches of snakeroot.) He found pokeweed, whose purplish berries, he said, provided the ink for the United States Constitution.

    Mr. Feller found clam shells that he said were probably used by Indians and shards of a rose-petaled porcelain teacup that he guessed came from the home of the Hunter family, which conveyed its estate to the city in 1866. He pointed out a forest on the north side of the island that dates to a period before settlers cleared the land for farming.

    "Here's where we get roughly 200-year-old trees," Mr. Feller said. "They're very big wide trunks, evenly spaced trees, with a nice herb layer underneath. That's what existed here when there were only native Americans."

    When Mr. Feller and company reached the waters of Long Island Sound, there was scarcely a ripple on the blue-gray water and a lone seagull glided overhead. Practically underfoot were luxuriant spreads of salt marsh cordgrass and a few inches higher up salt meadow cordgrass.

    Mr. Feller beamed like a parent on graduation day.

    "The other reason Hunter Island is much better than the Adirondacks or the Catskills is you can't walk there and come on this," he said.

    Mr. Feller recalled the first time his wife, Margot Perron, then an urban park ranger like him, took him out to Hunter Island.

    "I had a preconceived notion of a chain-link fence, blacktop and swing sets," he said. "So I was skipping, skipping and jumping, because this completely exceeded any expectations I had about a New York City park."

    There were almost no people on the walk, save an immigrant from Ivory Coast sunning himself on a shoreline boulder. But the spot is so lovely that over the years resourceful New Yorkers have carved out redoubts - apparent picnic spots. Mr. Feller pointed out a fortlike alcove where one enchanted improviser had planted a patch of impatiens, and a bench built by an aging World War II steamfitter. The ruins of their labor are still there, protected now within the Forever Wild designation.

    "Nothing is forever," Mr. Feller said of all 48 preserves. "But these are not the areas people should be thinking about for recreation. These are the sites whose greatest contribution to the city is leaving them as they are."


    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

    http://nycgovparks.org/sub_about/par...wild_sites.php

  4. #19
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    I've wanted the city to promote this and it's golf courses as destinations for a while now. Finally, someone sees that showing people NYC has it all makes some sense. Nice article.

  5. #20

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    Installing the art in the Grand Ferry Park. 9 October 2004.





    Installing the art in the Grand Ferry Park. 9 October 2004.


  6. #21
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    Bx. parks leaf much
    to be desired: group



    BY JEGO ARMSTRONG and AUSTIN FENNER
    DAILY NEWS WRITERS

    The Bronx scored poorly on a survey of neighborhood parks by an advocacy group, placing no parks in the top 10 and four in the bottom 10.
    Overall, city playgrounds have improved, according to the report card released yesterday by New Yorkers for Parks, a nonprofit parks advocacy organization, but 40% of the city's parks earned scores of Cs, Ds and Fs.

    Manhattan has five of the top 10 community parks in the city, which were evaluated on recreational space, passive green space, bathrooms and sitting areas. It also had two in the bottom 10.

    University Woods Park in the University Heights section of the Bronx was rated the worst in the city with a dismal 6% score out of a possible 100%.

    "It's not a place for people to come and hang out," said Tony Campbell, 47, of Kingsbridge, who was sitting in the Bronx park on a bluff.

    A reporter who visited the derelict park yesterday noted the pungent smell of urine along its pathways.

    The Bronx park scene is set to change drastically, thanks to a $200 million infusion of cash for its parks the city has agreed to provide in exchange for building an underground water filtration plant for the Croton Water Supply System beneath the Mosholu Golf Course in Van Cortlandt Park.

    Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión suggested University Woods be turned into an educational nature preserve operated by Urban Park Rangers.

    Christian DiPalermo, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks, said the Parks Department can improve park quality by stepping up its targeted maintenance program called Operation Releaf/Relief to fix derelict bathrooms and water fountains.

    "The mayor and the City Council can address the challenges in caring for neighborhood parks by increasing funding for park maintenance and operation in next year's budget, which is now being negotiated," said DiPalermo.

    Bryant Park on W. 42nd St. in Manhattan - with its lush, manicured lawns and flowers - was rated the best small park in the city.

    Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe dismissed the report card as inaccurate.

    "We don't agree with the sampling or the conclusion of the report card," said Benepe.

    "More New Yorkers enjoy first-class parks and playgrounds than at any time in the last 35 years."


    Originally published on June 22, 2005

    All contents © 2005 Daily News, L.P.

  7. #22
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    Question

    I was just wondering... has anyone here been to University Woods Park? Is it really that bad? Anyone has any photos of the park? I will go there but now I am scared to go alone and take my camera there.

  8. #23
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    NY Times
    June 28, 2005

    Making the Brutal F.D.R. Unsentimentally Humane


    Rendering of a renovated pier as conceived by the East River esplanade plan. Under the plan, a vibrant panorama would be created without losing the area's rough edges.


    Although it is still in the earliest stages of design, city officials hope to complete the project, which includes surrounding neighborhoods, within three to five years.


    For example, the plan proposes that an abandoned median strip running down Allen Street from the East Village to the foot of the Manhattan Bridge would be transformed into a narrow park.


    The city also plans to redesign the underside of the F.D.R. Drive to compliment the elaborate system of landscaped berms and shelters scattered along the two-mile waterfront.


    Image of proposed East River esplanade looking toward the Brooklyn Bridge.




    By NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF

    Few people reminisce longingly about the New York waterfront of the 1970's, with its decrepit piers, graffiti-covered warehouses and tetchy drag queens. But you can say this for it: it had a gritty integrity. The typical riverfront developments of today, with their traditional lampposts and quaint park benches, drip with nostalgia for a city that never was. They have all the charm of an open-air suburban mall.

    The master plan for an East River esplanade, which was unveiled last month by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, is a welcome reprieve from that New York cliché. Covering a two-mile stretch of waterfront from Battery Park to East River Park in Lower Manhattan, the project will transform a series of abandoned piers and derelict corners beneath the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive into a vibrant urban panorama without sacrificing the rough edges.

    But the master plan is more than a blunt criticism of misplaced sentimentality. Even as it celebrates the city's underbelly, it weaves it into the surrounding neighborhoods with remarkable sensitivity. The plan shows how a series of small interventions, when thoughtfully conceived, can have a more meaningful impact on daily life than an unwieldy urban development scheme.

    Although it is still in the earliest stages of design, city officials hope to complete the esplanade within three to five years. (The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation has allotted $150 million toward the project, which has a relatively modest projected cost of $200 million.) Aspects of the plan still must be approved by a number of city, state and federal agencies.Commissioned by the city's Department of City Planning and the Economic Development Corporation, the design sprang from a collaboration among architectural generations: Gregg Pasquarelli of SHoP Architects, based here, the Richard Rogers Partnership in London and the landscape architect Ken Smith. Mr. Rogers, the co-designer of the Pompidou Center (1977) in Paris, is best known for creating a high-tech Pop Art aesthetic whose roots lie in the progressive values of the 1960's. Mr. Pasquarelli, 40, who like many in his generation, is warier of Modernism's mission, is less a social rebel than an astute social observer.

    Both find beauty in the large-scale public works projects that were a prominent feature of the 20th-century American landscape. Originally conceived in the late 1930's by Robert Moses, the city's imperious planner, the F.D.R. Drive - then called East River Drive - is usually considered an example of the brutal approach for which Moses later became infamous. It slices callously through the city, cutting a series of East Side neighborhoods off from the waterfront. The area underneath, which still sometimes reeks of rotting fish - a memory of the former fish markets - exudes a seedy noir spirit.

    Mr. Pasquarelli and Mr. Rogers do not moralize about that past. Initially they considered lowering parts of the elevated freeway to ground level, but the cost was prohibitive. Eventually the team decided that the F.D.R.'s aggressive form could be used to imbue the site with energy. To that end, the crude steel I-beams that support the freeway would be clad in contoured metal or concrete panels. Bands of fluorescent light strips, vaguely reminiscent of a Dan Flavin light installation, extend along the freeway's underside, their arrangement echoing the cars flowing by above.

    Such artistic touches would mesh well with an elaborate system of landscaped berms and shelters to be scattered along the two-mile waterfront. Planted with colorful shrubs and wild grasses, the berms rise right out of the pavement's surface. A series of glass pavilions would be scattered underneath the freeway; they may house restaurants, flower shops or some kind of public services.

    Most of these architectural components are place markers; they have yet to be fully designed. Even so the idea is to create a seamless, contemplative environment along the waterfront that embraces both the fine-grained scale of the surrounding communities and the monumental scale of the freeway. In doing so, the architects shrug off the conflict between Modernists and historicists that absurdly still defines so many urban planning debates in New York.

    That schism dates from the 1960's, when the activist Jane Jacobs challenged Moses' megalomaniacal plans, but it has little relevance today. For architects like Mr. Pasquarelli, the suburban promise embodied in Moses' freeway and park projects represent, for better or worse, a part of our collective memory. Their task, as they see it, is to salvage the corners of unexpected beauty from those childhood landscapes and give them new meaning. It is an approach that is far more relevant to contemporary life than Jacobs's - and every bit as humane. The outcome in the waterfront master plan is a project that craftily weaves together a remarkable range of scales. To offer relief from the uniformity of the esplanade, for example, the architects have suggested transforming a number of piers into more eco-friendly structures, sprinkled with public gardens. The surface of one of the piers peels up as it projects out toward the water, forming a viewing platform as well as allowing light to flow down to the water's surface.

    Conceived as little oases, the piers relate to a grander, and still incomplete, vision: the plans for the greening of the waterfront across the river in Brooklyn and on Governors Island just to the south. Extending like fingers out into the river, they help weave these disparate vistas into a cohesive whole.

    That same surgical approach is used to stitch the project into the surrounding communities. An abandoned median strip running down Allen Street from the East Village to the foot of the Manhattan Bridge would be transformed into a narrow park. Set diagonally to the bridge, it is gently sloped, so that it seems to accelerate as it approaches the waterfront, creating a wonderful forced perspective that pulls the neighborhood down toward the esplanade. Other interventions are more sedate: a sequence of reflecting pools along Peck Street are meant to conjure the street's past as a boat slip.

    SHoP and Rogers have yet to sign a contract with the city to complete the final design. In theory, they could be dropped in favor of another architectural firm. But even at this early stage, the esplanade is one of the few current projects to give voice to a young generation of architects intent on redefining our vision of the contemporary Metropolis.

    Along with the High Line - which transforms a section of gritty elevated tracks in downtown into a public garden - it represents a clear and much-needed break from the quaint Jane Jacobs-inspired vision of New York that is threatening to transform Manhattan into a theme park version of itself, a place virtually devoid of urban tension. It proves that there are still some in the city who are culturally daring, even if their numbers at times seem to be dwindling.

  9. #24

    Thumbs up

    This is a great project, I look forward to it being implemented.

  10. #25

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    Sunset Park in Brooklyn was in the movie "The Honeymooners." Awesome park, terrible movie. There's awesome brownstones and rowhouses near the park too, and a MASSIVE pool. I think it holds 1500 people, built during the depression.

    I'm always in Owls Head Park, it's just 2 blocks down on my street (68th). There's a new 9/11 memorial on the 69th street pier that's lit up every night between 9 and 11 PM. It's really nice.

    Cannonball Park next to Ft Hamilton gives an amazing view of the Verrazanno.

    Manhattan Beach Park is nice, a great beach.

    Dyker Beach Park is alright. I hear the golf course is pretty good.

    The Brooklyn Heights Promenade is amazing. Oh to live in a brownstone with a backyard on the promenade, but realistically..............

    I love Battery Park City, it's nice and modern and the Winter Garden is awesome. I hope I can live there one day. Seriously. It is my dream neighborhood. By the time I'll be able to move in there, after college, the new World Trade Center will hopefully be built.

  11. #26
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    Parks Even the Parks Dept. Won't Claim

    By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS

    Published: July 6, 2005

    At University Woods, a city park high above the Harlem River in the Bronx, hypodermic needles, feces and used condoms littered the grounds on a recent day. Several large trees lay across the main pathway. Broken animal bones that some said bore traces of Santeria rituals were visible.

    The 3.3-acre municipal park, whose grounds have long been a hideaway for drug users and prostitutes, was named the city's worst small park last month, for the third year in a row, by the advocacy group New Yorkers for Parks.

    Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe says city parks are in better condition now than they have been in nearly 40 years. He added, however, that a small percentage of the parkland the city owns - including University Woods - is not conducive to being actively maintained by gardeners, and that to do so would be "a waste of money."

    "That park is not a park," Mr. Benepe said, referring to University Woods. "That park is a vestigial landscape on the side of a hill. It has a series of paths that lead nowhere. It's a cliff side. It will never be a park." He added, "Just because something is in our inventory doesn't mean it's worth taking care of."

    New York City has acquired almost 300 acres of parkland since Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took office in 2002. But critics say that the city started neglecting some existing parks - most in poor neighborhoods - long before Mr. Bloomberg named Mr. Benepe parks commissioner shortly after taking office.

    Mr. Benepe bristles at the suggestion that the Parks Department favors certain areas of the city over others. "The reality is that across the city in every neighborhood, the parks are better," he said. And while he says there is no formal two-tier system when it comes to maintaining city parks, he acknowledges that some are better cared for than others.

    Just how many of the city's 1,700 public parks, playgrounds and recreation facilities are not actively maintained is not clear, but Mr. Benepe said that a limited number of city parks would "never be great parks" because they are on land unsuitable to be developed as parkland, or because they are in neighborhoods that are no longer significantly residential.

    There is no list, no formal process leading to a park being written off. But it is clear that some parks, over a period of decades, have simply fallen out of favor with the Parks Department, which says that every park is supposed to be cleaned at least once a day.

    The department, which decides how often horticulturists visit each park and what capital projects to pursue, has seen its operating budget increase to $201 million in fiscal 2005 from $152 million in fiscal 1997, and the department's capital budget in the current fiscal year alone is $850 million, up from $550 million last year. Much of that amount will be spent on developing recently acquired parkland and on parks along the waterfront, according to Parks Department figures.

    Despite their unkempt pockets, some parks, like Aqueduct Walk Park in the Bronx, are heavily used. Many others, however, are similar to University Woods, and attract few visitors. Large swaths of Highbridge and Fort Washington Parks in Upper Manhattan, Soundview, Ferry Point and Pelham Bay Parks in the Bronx, Highland Park on the Brooklyn-Queens border and Idlewild Park in Queens, among others, have been designated natural areas by the Parks Department, to preserve wetlands and other natural habitats. Such areas require less rigorous maintenance than others. Some of these are now impassable for all but the most determined parkgoer due to overgrown trails, poison ivy, homeless encampments and garbage. Abandoned cars and boats have been left in some of the parks.

    What these parks have in common is that they rely almost exclusively on city money, while the city's best-maintained parks - Central Park, Bryant Park and Prospect Park among them - are managed in part by private conservancies that raise money and hire workers independent of the Parks Department. The neglected parks also lack the community support and involvement present in the neighborhoods around the city's most successful green spaces.

    "It is completely outrageous that poor communities are given this type of service when other parks are given adequate service," said Geoffrey M. Croft, president of New York City Park Advocates. "Having prostitutes and drug users fill a park when a community needs parks, goes against everything government is supposed to do in terms of providing services and protecting people."

    The Police Department, not the Parks Department, is responsible for tackling serious crime in city parks. But Mr. Croft said that unmaintained areas provided a natural shelter for criminals.

    Mr. Benepe said that any problems that exist are isolated, and that the department has a rigorous inspection process. "This is a big system and you can't address every little problem," he said. Mr. Benepe said a lack of resources was not an issue either. "The challenge is how to spend all the money we've been given," he said.

    In all, the Parks Department's 28,800 acres take up about 14 percent of the total land mass in the city's five boroughs. About 12,000 acres of parkland have been designated natural areas, though some, like Central Park's Ramble, are well maintained and free of the trash and invasive species that plague the natural areas of other parks.

    University Woods, for instance, has failed the Park Department's own cleanliness and general condition inspections for the past three years, and if its current circumstances are any indication, it has little hope of ever being a haven for anyone seeking a respite from city life. The last capital project in the park - which involved repairing fences and walkways that are again in disrepair - took place in 1997.

    On a recent weekend in University Woods, in University Heights, a man and woman were seen having sex against a tree. Encampments for homeless people were scattered in the underbrush. Several areas had been littered with hypodermic needles, used condoms, needle cleaning kits and wrappers for "Savage" and "TKO" brands of heroin. And piles of feces could be seen on staircases.

    The only evidence of the park's benches were rivet holes in the ground. There were no garbage cans, lights, restrooms or staff workers. Visitors have reported seeing a dead goat and the skulls of various animals, apparently after they had been sacrificed.

    Julio Calderon, 31, who was walking a large pit bull outside the park, said he never stepped inside University Woods, though he lives nearby. "The park is dangerous," Mr. Calderon said in Spanish. "People who are in there do things I don't want to see."

    The parks commissioner said he would like to trade University Woods to a developer for more suitable park property, or to fence it off. "You have to be pragmatic about these things," Mr. Benepe said.

    The Bronx borough president, Adolfo Carríon Jr., agreed but called the park's current neglect a "disgrace."

    "University Woods cannot continue to be what it is," he said.

    Not far away, in Highbridge Park, which stretches for two miles across Upper Manhattan, the scene was even more grim on a recent weekend. Huge sections of the 119-acre park set aside as natural areas have been taken over by homeless people who have built permanent shacks made of sheet metal and steel pipes driven into the earth. One of the park's residents is a heroin addict and prostitute who would give her name only as Joanne. Her makeshift house has a bed and a nightstand. She said she had lived there for 13 years. Men smoked crack cocaine a few feet from where a youth baseball game was being played.

    Kelvin, who would not provide a surname, lives in the park underneath a Harlem River Drive entrance ramp. He lifted his shirt to show his heavily bandaged chest, where he said he had been stabbed the week before. He tapped a Bible on his nightstand, which lay atop some pornographic magazines. "I almost died," he said in Spanish. "God was with me." On a concrete wall, someone has scrawled graffiti: "This might be the only place where New York is still New York."

    Mr. Benepe said that while Highbridge Park is "much better than it was 10 years ago," it had been ruined decades ago when freeway ramps were built across it.

    Mr. Benepe, who expressed both skepticism and surprise at the park's condition when told about it, said the city's plan was: "Let nature take its course." "Trees are growing, insects are buzzing, oxygen is being produced, and there's nothing wrong with that," he said.

    Mr. Croft, the parks advocacy group president, said, "Having prostitutes, drug dealers and drug users in parks is not going back to nature."

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  12. #27

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    I like the views from Sunset Park in Brooklyn the best. But my favorite park in the city is Joyce Kilmer Park in the Bronx.

  13. #28

  14. #29
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    The Bosque at Battery Park has been very nicely renovated. Some sections are open. The night lighting is very pretty. The fountain area is still roped off and the carousel is yet to come.

  15. #30

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    The pic from Sunset Park of the Manhattan skyline is my favorite. I go to a lot of Yankees games during the season and stop by Joyce Kilmer Park on my 16 block hike to the stadium.

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