A Proposal for New York's Park Inequity Problem

The inequities of New York City’s park system have been on the policy radar since state legislation was introduced last year that would require large, wealthy park conservancies to contribute to smaller, cash-strapped parks around the city.
April 3, 2014, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Following on the recent appointment of Mitchell Silver to head the New York City Parks Department, Alexandra Lange writes for The New Yorker on the problem of inequity in the parks of New York City, arguing for a solution that would establish neighborhood conservancies for local park space.

The inequity of the city’s park system is such that State Senator Daniel L. Squadron last year introduced legislation that “would take twenty per cent from the budgets of the ‘well-financed conservancies’ and redistribute it to poorer parks, matching these ‘contributing parks’ to ‘member parks.’”

Lange proposes an arrangement that goes beyond Squadron’s “tithe” by allowing all citizens of New York to have a chance to contribute to the success of their neighborhood parks: “We would leverage our inherent narcissism to do some good for our daily lives, and the lives of others. The pitch: give to the park you visit every day, rather than the one you go to a couple of times a year.”

Lange’s proposal would prevent the types of inequality Squadron’s plan is meant to mitigate by creating alliances between neighborhoods: “The solution to this problem…is to create alliances—not between conservancies but between adjacent neighborhoods across the Mayor’s ‘two cities’ divide. It would make sense, for example, to combine Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, and Red Hook under a single conservancy, with the donated money to be spent equally, and volunteer labor to be spread equally, among all the parks in those areas.”

As for the new Mayor de Blasio’s take on the legislation still under consideration with the state legislature: “De Blasio endorsed the bill then but stopped short of reiterating his support on Friday, instead referring to the idea as ‘creative,’ reports Lange.

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Published on Friday, March 28, 2014 in The New Yorker
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