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New York City's parks are packed to capacity and growing

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Attendance at the city’s park, pools, and beaches has grown exponentially in the last few years

New York City’s most popular parks are packed to capacity, and in some cases are overflowing, a recent examination into the state of the city’s parks by the New York Times has revealed. That now is raising concerns about whether the existing infrastructure can cope with the teeming crowds, and what the city will do next to accommodate the growing interest.

The city’s best known park, Central Park, is expecting 42 million visitors this year, which is up by seven million visitors from just five years ago. The conservancy that manages the park recently announced a $300 million fundraising campaign to refurbish large sections of park and deal with wear and tear over the years.

Brooklyn Bridge Park has seen its attendance double from 63,408 in 2011 to 127,307 last year. In Astoria Park, a volunteer group has hired more cleaners to deal with the trash problems, and in fact has now started handing out plastic bags to visitors to clean up after themselves.

Most recently, an event at the High Line got so crowded, that the park had to be shut down.

It doesn’t get much better for the city’s beaches or swimming pools. Visitors to the beaches increased from 18.1 million in 2014 to 22.8 million last year — an increase of almost five million people in just one year. At McCarren Pool in Williamsburg, crowds had swelled from 129,723 in 2014 to 150,149 last year.

The city’s Parks Department is trying to counter this surge in many ways. There are currently 500 parks projects underway at existing and new parks, according to the Times. The Department has hired 500 seasonal workers at a cost of $6 million for the upkeep of heavily used parks, and in addition it has also set aside a large chunk of funds to improve under-financed parks throughout the city.