FW: urbanoutdoors: [Urban Outdoors]
- Subject: [cg] FW: urbanoutdoors: [Urban Outdoors]
- From: "Honigman, Adam" <Adam.Honigman@Bowne.com>
- Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 15:26:56 -0500
David Lutz of the Neighborhood Open Space Coalition & Friends of Gateway is
the great unsung hero of open space greening, parks and community gardens in
NYC. The attached newsletter is a gem.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2002 3:12 PM
Subject: urbanoutdoors: [Urban Outdoors]
U r b a n O u t d o o r s
No. 78 - January 20 2001 - The Citywide Voice of Urban
A SOARING MONUMENT?
Before leaving office, Mayor Guiliani called for a "soaring monument"
for the site of the World Trade Center (WTC). He said that such a
monument backed by significant public space would insure both the
preservation of hallowed ground as parkland and economic development
in the form of tourism. A few weeks before, the NY Times reported
that Mayor-elect Bloomberg had quickly dismissed a proposal to build
a communications tower, taller than the WTC, on Governors Island.
Perhaps a communications tower belongs where the communications tower
was, at the site of the WTC, It can be designed as a "soaring
monument" to those who lost their lives and as a symbol of America's
desire to erase intolerance. Like the Eiffel Tower or the Seattle
Space Needle the tower does not have to house offices, minimizing its
potential danger to people, and like the tower that defines the
Toronto skyline, communications providers would probably be willing
to pay the bill for its construction.
NEW YEARS EVE MASSACRE
LATE BULLETIN: On his last day in public office Mayor Guiliani
dismissed 3500 WEP workers from their low paying jobs at NYC Parks.
Without WEP, total NYC Park staffing is about 2000, full time and
3000 part-time or seasonal employees. Eight years ago, without the
WEP program, which requires unemployed New Yorkers to earn their
welfare checks, NYC parks were in shambles. They were filthy,
un-maintained and often abandoned by the public.
EXIT RUDY GUILIANI...
Some New Yorkers cheered and said, "The reign of terror is over."
Others cried and called him "The greatest Mayor ever". But when you
break the job down into issues, successes and failures, a more
nuanced picture emerges. Our interest is public space.
The Mayor broke with his predecessor and allowed the Parks Department
to acquire new lands. Mr. Guiliani allowed Commissioner Stern to put
large numbers of welfare recipients to work in the parks. The merits
and efficacy of that program continue to be debated, but the fact
that parks are cleaner and better maintained now than eight years ago
is beyond dispute. Lucky enough to govern during good times, the
Mayor increased capital expenditures in the parks, providing the city
with new playground equipment throughout our City. Unfortunately,
while other areas of government were being staffed up, Parks
continued to suffer from flat operating budgets resulting in
short-staffed parks with little skilled maintenance or guidance for
GARDENING VS. STADIUMS
It would have been so easy to note that the money made from selling
community gardens is miniscule, and that the energy and public
spiritedness of the gardeners is the kind of thing that government is
in the business of encouraging. But here a personality flaw kicked
in, and the Mayor showed a kind of meanness and myopia that did not
allow him to see things from a point of view other than his own.
Stadium obsession is another example of narrowness of vision. He
built two minor league baseball stadiums, and worked for two gold
plated major league baseball stadiums and a football stadium all to
be built with public subsidy at a time when large areas of parkland
continue to be fenced off and unavailable for the healthful activity
of the citizenry at large. On his last day he reinforced his interest
in the business of baseball by loosening the leases of the major
league franchises, allowing them to hold the threat of leaving over
the City's heads.
GREENWAYS, BIKEWAYS AND GREENSTREETS
In the last eight years more bike infrastructure has been created in
NYC than in the whole 100+ year history of the bicycle. Bike lanes
are now almost everywhere. New "greenways" and "greenstreets" plazas
make the city more pleasant for cyclists, skaters, joggers, walkers
etc. Mayor Guiliani was not a spokesperson for these improvements.
Had he displayed more interest in transportation, more might have
been done. But much happened, and the City is a kinder place for the
improvements. They happened on his watch and many New Yorkers are
A SOFT SPOKEN MAYOR AND A GREEN CITY COUNCIL?
Mike Bloomberg has taken office as Mayor of NYC, displaying a more
soft-spoken style that masks a toughness acquired in the fight to the
top of the business world. Based on his background in parks civics
(he was on the Board of the Randall's Island Sports Foundation), it
would be safe to say he is a friend of parks; but fiscal realities
have raised a question mark where none should be. Can the Parks
Department, already cut to shreds by years of budget cuts, withstand
more shrinkage without conditions sinking back to the bad-old days of
just eight years ago?
Gifford Miller has won the votes of his peers for leadership of the
City Council, NYC's second most powerful elected position. While all
three candidates for the post could be said to be urban
environmentalists, Mr. Miller has repeatedly demonstrated his
understanding of the importance of public space. In addition he has
been openly supportive of community garden preservation. He ran for
leadership on a platform calling for a less controlled Council. In an
era of openness, Council members will be more willing to be vocal
advocates for their communities, because the stick of funding cuts
will presumably not be used.
OLYMPIC ORGANIZER TAPPED BY MAYOR
Mayor Bloomberg has delayed plans to build new big stadiums on public
parkland, but he does seem to be hungry for the 2012 Olympics, if his
appointment of Daniel L. Doctoroff as Deputy Mayor for Economic
Development is indicative of priorities. Doctoroff is founder and
president of NYC2012 (www.nyc2012.com <http://www.nyc2012.com/>),
created to bring the Olympics to NYC. The Olympic promoters feel that
the event can leave a legacy that will boost both the quality and
quantity of facilities for active recreation in NYC. They look to the
Olympics not only to jump start recreational development on the
city's aging waterfronts but to provide capital for expansion of
waterborne transportation as well.
The NY Times reported on the continuing argument between NYC2012 and
local environmental leaders of what Urban Outdoors has called the
one-big-lake proposal. To accommodate Olympic boat races, Meadow and
Willow Lakes in busy Flushing Meadows Park would be combined into a
bowl-like lake with a bridge across it to accommodate Jewel Avenue
traffic. Mr. Doctoroff noted that the present lake is artificial and
polluted and would be "improved" by the change. Take-a-Walk, New
York! leader Paul Graziano, was also quoted in the article: "What
they call an improvement, I call a disaster".
But what if the resulting lake looked like multiple likes with
habitat islands and a complex meandering shoreline, accessible to
people. Cutting edge bio-filtration landscapes could be used to clean
the water from surrounding highways before it enters the lake,
cleaning up the present poisoned environment. A naturalistic swimming
pool could be incorporated into the design so that swimmers would
have the visual impression that they were swimming in the larger
lake. (The visually obtrusive aquacade, containing a swimming
facility, was removed a few years ago.) Perhaps a middle way can
accommodate naturalists, greenway trail users and the Olympics.
A MASTER PLAN FOR DREIER-OFFERMAN PARK
With $1.2 million in State Environmental Bond Act and Mayoral money,
NYC Parks is beginning a comprehensive planning effort for
Dreier-Offerman Park that will include building new habitat areas and
planning active recreation areas based on needs identified by the
community. The 73-acre waterfront park, alongside Coney Island Creek
(aka Perfume Bay) and Gravesend Bay is thus added to the list of
pioneering opportunities to provide for needs of bird and sea life
and people along our magnificent waterfront.
Since the Park includes sweeping views of Gravesend Bay, minimal
investments in greenways, hand boat storage containers, a fresh water
pond and bird blinds could result in major new visitation. Already
fishers and small boaters use waters off the park. New ball fields
could be tucked into the habitat areas to serve existing leagues and
be more open to neighborhood residents than the present locked and
fenced-off ball fields.
A plan to develop the park into a golf driving range and associated
businesses, reported in Urban Outdoors, came apart with the business
failure of the proposed concessionaire, leaving the park in limbo.
The latest news is a victory for the community and a new start for
GIVING A PUBLIC BUILDING A PROPER ENTRANCE
The new ceremonial staircase on the Tweed Courthouse behind City Hall
is an example of what can be done to decorate our city if New Yorkers
put their effort into it. The staircase had been truncated some years
ago in order to widen streets on the approach to the Brooklyn Bridge.
A coalition of landmark and traffic calming advocates worked to put
the stairs back as part of the current reconstruction. To do so,
Chambers Street had to be narrowed.
While the magnificently restored building has not yet re-opened to
the public, the visual impact of the external change is startling.
What had been an un-welcoming wall at street level with two dark
doorways to the building is gone. The grand staircase now beckons
walkers to come in. The building is proposed to be a new home for the
Museum of the City of New York. Even before the exhibits arrive, that
staircase will become an important public shady sitting place on hot
summer days. As a museum entrance it will insure a steady stream of
We are informed that a second such stairway is now being planned for
the Brooklyn Museum on Eastern Parkway. That building was completed
without its designed staircase. The project has waited 100 years for
funding. Here the broad plaza in front of the museums stoop will
create a natural amphitheater for performance art. No doubt that the
buskers are lining up now.
HIGHLINE DESTRUCTION STALLED IN CLIFFHANGER
The highline is the remnant of an elevated freight railroad that
connected over a mile of warehouses on Manhattan's West Side. While
some of the building owners want it torn down, Friends of the
Highline has been advocating for its retention as an elevated
greenway. In a cliffhanger of a court case, an injunction against
destruction was lifted just before Mayor Bloomberg entered office.
Now the ball is in the court of Mayor Mike, who has expressed support
for the visionary plan and has at least three months to work out a
satisfactory plan for the structure's future.
With the destruction of the World Trade Center, some developers are
looking to the parking lots adjacent to the highline in the 30's as a
fast track place to build replacement offices. However, those parking
lots also serve important economic functions by warehousing buses at
a location close to the bus terminal and municipal vehicles near
where they would be used. Here, the highline can be used to create a
raised West Side plaza that would serve as an entrance level for new
development while leaving the present service functions in place on
NOSC "MARCH FORTH" FUN RAISER
It doesn't take a lot of street smarts to know that 2002 will be a
difficult year for small non-profit organizations. Traditional
funding sources are tighter because of what we hope will be a short
recession, and the 9-11 disaster has focused a lot of attention away
from the day-to-day work of making ALL NYC a better place to live and
work. The NOSC board of trustees, recognizing the challenges ahead,
is organizing a "fun raising" party in a gorgeous Chelsea loft to
honor some urban environmental heroes and raise some rent money so
that we can continue our work.
Honorees will include Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, NOSC founder
Tom Fox, urban environmentalist and NOSC Treasurer Eugenia Flatow,
retiring Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment President John
Muir, and historian and greenway advocate John Gallagher. We will
feature a short slide show about our successful new Take a Walk, New
York! program. The event will include live soft music, drinks, lots
of great finger food and opportunities to meet, greet and schmooze.
Invitations are to be sent by mail, so call 212-352-9330 to register
your address. The March Forth event is on March 4th, and tickets are
TAKE A WALK, NEW YORK!
Saturday, January 26, 2002. 10 AM. Victorian Astoria and Waterfront
Communities, Queens. Paul Graziano, local historian and urban
planning consultant, will lead this winter walk to Astoria Park, old
Astoria, the Socrates Sculpture Park, Hallets Cove Waterfront and
thru the lively Broadway/Steinway shopping district. We will end the
walk at the American Museum of the Moving Image (walkers can decide
whether to visit the Museum or not). Take the W (formerly N) train to
Astoria/Ditmars Boulevard station.
Saturday, February 9, 2002. 10:30 AM. Breezy Point/Fort Tilden,
Queens. A winter beach walk around the western tip of the Rockaways
and through Fort Tilden, part of Gateway National Recreation Area.
National Park Ranger, Nancy Corona, will lead. Meet at the Fort
Tilden Visitor Center. Take the #2 or #5 train to the Flatbush
Ave./Brooklyn College station and the Q35 bus (in front of Lord's
Bakery). Tell the bus driver you are going to Ft. Tilden. This bus
runs every 30 minutes on Saturday AM; you should be at the bus stop
before 10:00 AM. Bring lunch.
Sunday, February 24, 2002. 10:00 AM. Victorian Flatbush/Prospect
Park, Brooklyn. See turn of the century homes, former homes of some
"famous" people and Prospect Park in winter. Leader is Ron Schweiger,
well-known Brooklyn historian. Meet at the Beverly Rd. station of the
Q train. Bring lunch.
Your $35 membership to Neighborhood Open Space Coalition helps
protect NYC's quality of life and keeps Urban Outdoors coming.
ITS NEW, ITS FUN, and NOSC and FoG really needs you to do it. Our
web site now has a membership button that lets you join without
snail-mail. Go to www.treebranch.net <http://www.treebranch.net>,
learn about all the great things that we do and click on that NEW
contribution/ membership button for an easier way to join.
URBAN OUTDOORS is the monthly newsletter of Neighborhood Open Space
Coalition and Friends of Gateway. It reports on citywide public space
issues and the work of hundreds of local civic groups that take an
interest in the spaces. To add someone to URBAN OUTDOORS list: visit
the subscription area of www.treebranch.com. To be removed from the
list reply to email@example.com with: unsubscribe urban outdoors"
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