2005-11-17 / From The Mayor...

Greening New York City

From The Mayor

Our city’s parkland and open spaces are vital to our future. They make communities more livable by providing hard-working New Yorkers a place to relax, beautify neighborhoods, and even improve the air we breathe. My administration has been dedicated to creating more parks – in all five boroughs – and maintaining the valuable open space we already have.

Over the next two years, we are investing $1.38 billion in parks expansions and improvements - the largest sum ever invested in City parks for such a period. And we are doing a better job than ever of maintaining existing parks. The Parks Department’s Inspection Program recently gave City parks and playgrounds an all-time-high cleanliness rating of nearly 93%.

Last week, I announced that the energy company KeySpan formally transferred ownership of the former Elmhurst gas tanks site to the City, where we will spend $20 million over the next three years to transform the 6.5-acre site into a public park. The new park will be critically important to Elmhurst, a fast-growing neighborhood that lacks open space.

Those are just the latest projects in our four-year effort to expand and improve New York’s parkland. Over the last four years, we’ve added almost 300 acres of parkland to our nearly 29,000-acre network of parks, playgrounds, and beaches.

I recently broke ground on a $55 million Olympic-sized swimming pool and ice skating rink at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which should be open to the public in two years. It will be the first Olympic-sized pool to be built in a New York City park in more than 30 years, and the first such complex to be built in Queens.

In Staten Island, we recently announced construction of Owl Hollow Fields, the first project in our plan to transform the infamous Fresh Kills landfill site into a world-class park. When the park is complete, it will cover 2,200 acres – nearly two-and-a-half times the size of Central Park - and it will push the total amount of open space on the Island to nearly 30% of the total land area. Elsewhere on the Island, we have completed a $20 million section of Bloomingdale Park, with 15 acres of softball fields, soccer fields, and basketball courts. And soon, we’ll complete the 42-acre Fairview Park in Charleston, which will include 15 acres of soccer fields, ball fields and walking paths.

I am dedicated to reclaiming New York’s 578 miles of shoreline for public use. From transforming Fort Totten in Queens into a public park, to creating a new shoreline esplanade along the East River in Lower Manhattan, to building a new 28-acre park along Bushwick Creek in Brooklyn, we are realizing the potential that our waterfront holds. Recently, I broke ground on a $20 million project to transform a long-neglected parking lot along the Hudson River in Harlem into a set of recreational piers and shoreline greenway. And earlier this year, we began a $7 million project to transform a former “brownfield” in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx into a 5-acre waterfront site called Barretto Point Park.

We are revitalizing neighborhoods and improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers. That means improving and expanding our parks, keeping the streets the cleanest they’ve been in over 30 years, helping small businesses and creating jobs, driving crime down 20%, and giving our children the education they deserve. We have made real progress over the past four years, and our City’s future is getting brighter every day.

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