Will Unsustainable Open Spaces Degrade Bloomberg's Legacy?

Thanks to private funds, NYC invested six times more in building and improving its parks during Mayor Bloomberg's tenure than was spent in the prior decade. But what will happen to these parks when their billionaire backer leaves office?

2 minute read

July 9, 2013, 1:00 PM PDT

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


We've looked before at New York City's growing parks disparity. But another concern with the influx of private funds that's made the city's astonishing parks expansion possible, at the same time that the Parks and Recreation department's maintenance budget was being cut, is what will happen to the shiny new open spaces when the Mayor with the billion dollar rolodex leaves office.  

"There's no question that the big-picture story is an impressive one: There have been new parks and significant renovations to large parks," said Holly Leicht, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks.

"The big concern is that already the maintenance budget has not kept up with the existing supply of parkland, much less being enough for additional parks," Ms. Leicht said. "Will they really be able to sustain themselves outside of the public budget, as was the premise of their creation?"

"Nearly everyone agrees that some private support for parks is essential given constrained municipal budgets," writes Laura Kusisto. "But parks groups said it may also be time to step back and realize that the private sector can't entirely be relied upon to replace shrinking parks budgets." 

"'The ones that are expected to fly on their own, whether they can do it or not is their problem, but it is also our problem as a society as a whole,' said Deborah Marton, of the New York Restoration Project, which helps maintain parks in low-income neighborhoods. 'Then we have failed public spaces that we all have to deal with.'"

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 in The Wall Street Journal

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