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Photo Flash: NYC Parks Hosts Community Parks Initiative Kick-Off in Brooklyn

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, today marked the roll-out of the Community Parks Initiative (CPI) in Brooklyn - heralding this multi-faceted program to invest in under-resourced public parks located in New York City's densely populated and growing neighborhoods with higher-than-average concentrations of poverty. CPI represents the first phase of NYC Parks: Framework for an Equitable Future. The framework outlines NYC Parks' commitment to increasing the accessibility and quality of New York City's parks in neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs through a dynamic series of immediate steps and long-term initiatives to support sustainable, equitable park development and implement a targeted level of service improvements across the park system. Scroll down for photos!

At the event, which took place at P.S. 316/M.S. 353, adjacent to Stroud Playground, Commissioner Silver was joined by Deputy BrooklynBorough President Diana Reyna, City Council Members Laurie Cumbo, Rafael Espinal, and Darlene Mealy, representatives from Community Boards 1, 3, 4, 8 and 16, Prospect Park Alliance President and Prospect Park Administrator Susan Donoghue, and students from P.S. 316 and M.S. 353. Commissioner Silver announced that the Prospect Park Alliance will be partnering with NYC Parks on the design of Stroud Playground, offering pro- bono design expertise.

"Thanks to Mayor de Blasio's vision for a more equitable and innovative park system, we are creating a bright, green future for New York City's parks," said Commissioner Silver. "Through the Community Parks Initiative we are working to invest in communities with the greatest need and to create thriving public spaces to enhance the livability of under-resourced neighborhoods. The elements of our framework for an equitable future will rest on the foundations of targeted capital investment, strong community partnerships, new programming, and dedicated maintenance. We are confident that good park development is essential to the growth of a truly 21st Century parks system."

"I have been proud to make great strides in my first year as Borough President on creating greater park equity across Brooklyn, and I owe a great deal of thanks and appreciation to my partners at the Department of Parks and Recreation," says Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. "Open space is not a luxury for the few; it is a necessary component of a community that fosters healthy children and families. It does not matter if you are young or old, if you are rich or poor -- our parks bring together Brooklynites of every age, race and income level. I will continue to use my capital budget to ensure that improvements to our parks and our open spaces are made across the borough in an equitable fashion -- from Cobble Hill to Canarsie and from Bay Ridge to Brownsville."

"During periods of low municipal investment, community members in central Brooklyn joined together to improve the appearance of their local parks and make them safe spaces for children to play," said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. (D-36). "It's absolutely wonderful that the Community Parks Initiative will build upon this same spirit of community activism and fund the physical and programmatic changes that neighbors want to see in the public spaces they love."

"I am proud that Stroud Playground is among the 35 green spaces that will undergo a complete renovation as part of the Community Parks Initiative across this city," said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo. "The residents of Prospect Heights, particularly our families and youth deserve a safe outdoor environment to engage in recreational activities within their community. I look forward to working in partnership with the de Blasio Administration, NYC Parks Commissioner Silver, and my constituents to rebuild Stroud Playground."

"Safe, clean parks are vital to a healthy community and a top priority for me," said City Council Member Rafael Espinal. "I want to thank both the Mayor and the Parks Commissioner for their leadership in developing an initiative that recognizes how important public parks are to creating and sustaining communities. The Community Parks Initiative will ensure under-resourced parks, like Thomas Boyland in Bushwick, are given long overdue renovations. The result is sure to benefit children and families across New York City."

"I'm thrilled to see the Community Parks Initiative happening in my own neighborhood," says local resident Katie Wittels. "The community in the Prospect Heights area is very dynamic and it's been changing a lot recently, so it's great to see parks like Stroud Playground getting some extra TLC. As New Yorkers, parks are really extensions of our homes -- quality parks help us connect with our neighbors, get outdoors, and improve our quality of life overall."

"I have lived in this neighborhood for a decade, started my family here, and now have one child attending kindergarten at P.S. 316 and another who soon will," said local resident Jennyfer Bagnell. "I have watched the neighborhood change rapidly in this time. Growing up, I have lived in other neighborhoods like this with a highly diverse group of residents who are rapidly changing and come with many different needs. I firmly believe that through community-building projects like this renovation we can address some of these needs and create a more knitted together community. And of course, as the mom of a child at the adjacent public school I know how much a more dynamic public space can shape the quality of life for our children."

The Community Parks Initiative (CPI) is a multi-faceted program to invest in under-resourced public parks located in New York City's densely populated and growing neighborhoods with higher-than-average concentrations of poverty.

CPI will benefit 55 neighborhoods across the five boroughs, reaching approximately 220,000 New Yorkers living within a 10-minute walk of the targeted parks.

CPI will also include a $130 million capital investment that promotes the full re-creation of 35 parks, $7.2 million in expense funding for Fiscal Year 2015, and $36.3 million in capital funding from the Department of Environmental Protection for green infrastructure improvements at these sites. With an annual Mayoral commitment of $1.4 million, we are also hiring 70 new staffers to provide recreation programs and enhance our maintenance resources within the CPI zones.

Thanks to significant investments by the City Council in increased funding for gardeners, maintenance workers, and community partnership, parks in the CPI initiative will receive critical operating support to sustain the capital investments. Additional staff and resources will be allocated across categories including community outreach, capital and planning, recreational programming, and park maintenance.

Community engagement and stewardship is a hallmark of CPI. Through Partnerships for Parks, a joint program of NYC Parks and the City Parks Foundation, using the proven Catalyst model, NYC Parks will engage community stakeholders, such as "Friends of" groups, and help them build their own capacity to use, program, and be advocates for their parks. The program will also engage agency partners, including the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Education, the New York City Housing Authority, and the Administration for Children's Services to achieve shared goals.

CPI is just one of many steps NYC Parks will take toward building a more equitable future for our park system. Mayor de Blasio has committed New York City to building and fostering the growth of economic opportunity, social equity, and livable neighborhoods. With the Community Parks Initiative, NYC Parks supports Mayor de Blasio's commitment to aggressively tackle equity issues in our communities.

At the event, CPI certificates were handed out to a representative for 36th Dist. Council Member Cornegy and Community Board 3 for Jesse Owens and Stockton Playgrounds; 41st Dist. Council Member Mealy and Community Board 16 for the Saratoga Ballfields; 35th Dist. Council Member Cumbo and Community Board 8 for Stroud Playground; a representative for 34th Dist. Council Member Reynoso and Community Board 1 for Ten Eyck Playground; and 37th Dist. Council Member Espinal and Community Board 4 for Thomas Boyland Park.

Photo Credit: Daniel Avila

Photo Flash: NYC Parks Hosts Community Parks Initiative Kick-Off in Brooklyn
Community parks initiative kicks off in Brooklyn near Stroud Playground

Photo Flash: NYC Parks Hosts Community Parks Initiative Kick-Off in Brooklyn
Community parks initiative kicks off in Brooklyn near Stroud Playground

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