Bloomberg Extends Park Improvement Initiative
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was joined by the Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, City Parks Foundation executive director David Rivel, and president of Green Shores NYC Katie Ellman on Friday to announce a public-private partnership that will combine City-funded capital improvements with the City Parks Foundation’s privately funded community-building programs, as part of the new phase of the Catalyst for Neighborhood Parks initiative aimed at revitalizing City parks through increased community engagement.
“Over the past four years, the 16 parks of the Catalyst initiative have helped reinvigorate the communities they are part of,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “By working together, neighborhoods across the City are reclaiming their parks and the future of their neighborhoods. We look forward to achieving similar results in even more City neighborhoods during the next phase of the Catalyst initiative,” he continued.
The City has committed $130 million in capital improvements to revive three waterfront parks, including Soundview Park in the Bronx, East River Park in Manhattan, and Calvert Vaux, and Kaiser Parks in Brooklyn, over the next four years. City Parks Foundation has committed $5 million worth of labor hours and programming to strengthen management and local group engagement in these regions. Additional public and private investments in these parks are expected to increase community involvement, leading to further improvements while empowering residents to protect these natural resources.
“By building interest in local parks, connecting people together to envision a positive future for their neighborhoods, and sustaining broad support for parks over time, the Catalyst program is dramatically increasing parks usage and contributing to the health and vibrancy of communities citywide,” remarked Parks & Recreation Commissioner Benepe. “The Catalyst program has been so successful that we now use it as a model for gathering community input and building local involvement in all of our parks projects and programming,” he further noted.
The previous phase of the Catalyst initiative was implemented in 2004 in the Astoria and Long Island City waterfront in Queens, Harlem in Manhattan, High Bridge in the Bronx and Manhattan, and Red Hook in Brooklyn. This effort resulted in the restoration of the historic High Bridge connecting the Bronx and Manhattan, reconstruction of the Marcus Garvey Park bandshell in Harlem, and increased community support throughout all regions. The designated areas have benefited from over $100 million in capital investments, a 200 percent increase in the number of active groups, a 380 percent increase in volunteer hours, and a 160 percent increase in attendance at free sports and concert events.
“The success of the Catalyst initiative is not measured in the number of capital projects advanced or in the number of dollars spent, but in the capacity created within each community to shape the future of their parks and neighborhoods through active and sustained partnerships with city government and a variety of stakeholders around these parks,” noted executive director of City Parks Foundation David Rivel.