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Local Resistance for NYC's Open Parks Program

The Parks Without Borders program in New York City is intended to open parks to the rest of the public realm, but some local activists like their parks just how they are.
October 21, 2019, 6am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Brooklyn, New York City
Felix Lipov

Design changes proposed for Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn are creating controversy for the New York City Parks Department's "Parks Without Borders" program, according to an article by Kendra Hurley.

Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver told Planetizen in an interview published earlier this year that the Parks Without Borders program is "removing fences, opening up sight-lines, breaking down walls, and converting sidewalks and streets next to parks into plazas."

The changes proposed for Fort Greene Park under the auspices of the program are too radical for a local organization called Friends of Fort Greene Park. Their complaint: that "the bulk of the redesign dishonors the historic vision of the park’s creators, Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, as well as the wishes of those who use this part of the park most, and especially the residents living in the housing developments across the street."

Rachel Sugar reported similar controversy with the same park and the same program in 2017, but Hurley suggests that the controversy with the Parks Without Borders program is not isolated to Fort Greene Park. "In a handful of other neighborhoods slated to receive the Parks Without Borders treatment, the program has been rife with controversy, inspiring some community members to rally in protest of proposed plans, but sometimes finding they have little recourse to stop them," according to Hurley.

The article includes a lot more context, in the form of anecdotes from activists in neighborhoods where the Parks Without Borders program has attempted parks redesigns.

Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 in City & State New York
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