No matter what opinion you hold of former mayor Michael Bloomberg, there is one thing that everyone can agree on: the man was a boon for city parks. During his 12-year tenure, an impressive 830 acres of green space were added to the city. How does his successor compare? According to New York magazine critic Justin Davidson, there is no comparison. Davidson aruges that Mayor Bill de Blasio "has shown little interest" in caring on Bloomberg's legacy of great new parks (his spending plan is $100 million less). "Bloomberg's credo was clear: Plant new parks, leverage private money, and make New York a magnet for visitors, investments, and residents. The de Blasio administration's approach is … we'll get back to you."
Yes, the mayor is only 18 months into his term, so initiatives are certainly still developing, but Davidson argues that the mayor, who is rightfully focused on affordable housing and income equality, "is ignoring one of the most cost-effective ways of easing New Yorkers' lives, irrespective of income." He writes, "It's hard to imagine a more obvious progressive cause than parks. Their only purposes are leisure and beauty, freely dispensed. Could there be a better antidote to the relentless pursuit of money, a purer assertion of democratic ideals, than a fabulously valuable square foot of soil given over to growing grass?"
While de Blasio has committed $130 million to revamp 35 neglected parks in lower income neighborhoods, he does not have one big project that could be his green crown jewel, but Davidson has some suggestions for bigger, grander parks that could become de Blasio's Brooklyn Bridge Park or High Line. He points to the proposals for the recently revealed Haven Project in the Bronx and the Brooklyn Strand in Downtown Brooklyn:
Imagine riding your bike over the Brooklyn Bridge and ending up on a landscaped slope rather than in a traffic hellhole, or being able to stroll along a leafy boulevard from Dumbo or the housing projects by the BQE straight to MetroTech and beyond. These are not just environmental sops or do-gooder fantasies; they are varied, imaginative, and practical ways to improve the public realm for all, amplifying assets that the city already has. A wise leader would be trumpeting these projects and, more important, funding them.· When Will de Blasio See the Light on Parks? [NYM]
· See the South Bronx Waterfront's Green, Park-Filled Future [Curbed]
· All Brooklyn Strand coverage [Curbed]