Who Deserves Blame for New York's Parks Disparity?

Many assume that the affluence of the surrounding neighborhood determines the health of New York City's parks. According to Lisa W. Foderaro, elected leadership, rather than location, determines which parks in the city are better maintained.
June 18, 2013, 7am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Through a comparison of crumbling Kelly Park, in Sheepshead Bay, and thriving Canarsie Park, Foderaro examines the role that the city's elected officials play in determining the health of the parks in their district.   

"This tale of two parks is echoed around New York City, and not for the reason usually given: that private money in wealthy neighborhoods is used to buff and polish already pristine parks," she explains. "Rather, the disparities between the Sheepshead Bay and Canarsie sections of Brooklyn, which share the same blue-collar demographic, stem from a little-noticed budget reality: With many smaller capital projects, the parks department is often constrained by the preferences of City Council members and borough presidents."

"The reliance on elected officials, whose priorities may not align with those of the parks department, is a focus of a new platform by New Yorkers for Parks, a nonprofit advocacy group. The platform, drawn up after conversations with advocates in the five boroughs, is being presented to community boards and mayoral candidates. It calls for more financing for park maintenance, greater transparency by park conservancies and stricter regulation on the use of parks for private purposes. While acknowledging that parks under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg have experienced an extraordinary level of expansion and refurbishment, the group says that many smaller parks were left behind."

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Published on Sunday, June 16, 2013 in The New York Times
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