A Proposal for Reducing New York's Open Space Inequity

With park finances increasingly determined by private fundraising efforts, New York's park system is beginning to reflect the city's growing inequality. Could a Neighborhood Parks Alliance help rebalance the city's park dichotomy?
May 29, 2013, 5am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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As recent articles have noted, the budgets of New York City's 1,700 parks are increasingly determined by private sources. While a handful of parks are able to attract big money backers, "[t]he parks that find it hardest to attract support are in communities that need the open space most," laments Democratic state senator Daniel L. Squadron in a recent op-ed. 

"When the advocacy group New Yorkers for Parks recently rated parks across the city, it was all too easy to predict which parks would be plagued by broken asphalt, damaged playgrounds and litter-strewn dirt — predominantly, those in neighborhoods without the private resources to maintain them."

Squadron proposes the creation of a Neighborhood Parks Alliance to help distribute scant resources more evenly throughout the city. According to Squadron, such an alliance "would form partnerships between a well-financed conservancy, a 'contributing park' and 'member parks' in need of more money and support."

"A Neighborhood Parks Alliance would not replace city financing, or the need for more of it. Nor would it create 1,700 Central Parks across every neighborhood in the city," he cautions. "But it would mean that more parks could meet their community’s needs, thanks to groups that have resources and knowledge worth sharing."

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Published on Friday, May 24, 2013 in The New York Times
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