Community Parks Initiative: Improving Park Equity
You'll learn about:
The implementation of a $285 million parks equity initiative that leverages resources from a variety of partners and spans across communities with diverse needs
The data-driven methodology behind the development of this multi-million dollar project
How NYC Parks is collecting key metrics to demonstrate the project’s impact, gain a deeper understanding of the parks system, and anticipate future needs
How park designers are using extensive public outreach strategies to create more accessible parks
New York is famous for its destination parks such as Central Park or the High Line. But it’s the city’s neighborhood parks that most influence residents’ daily lives.
After decades of disinvestment in public space, however, many of these neighborhood parks had fallen into disrepair and ceased to meet the needs of their surrounding communities. In response, NYC Parks launched the Community Parks Initiative (CPI), a data-driven, interdisciplinary approach to reimagine parks in the city’s poorest, densest, and fastest-growing neighborhoods. Since the program’s 2014 inception, NYC Parks has utilized an extensive (and inclusive) public outreach process to engage 2,100 community stakeholders in the redesign and reconstruction of 47 parks.
This session addresses the challenges and opportunities planners faced in creating an equitable parks system and the interdisciplinary methods they employed to enhance accessibility and encourage broader usership of parks this dynamic city. It also looks at how NYC Parks built a framework for the sustained care of parks in CPI neighborhoods and leveraged public and private resources to address park equity through a sweeping, coordinated process that has catalyzed parks equity programs in several other major cities.
, New York City Council
, New York
Confirmed SpeakerMark Levine is a New York City Council Member representing the 7th District in Northern Manhattan. He is a progressive policy leader on housing, education, economic justice, transportation, environmentalism, and more. He chairs the City Council’s Committee on Parks and Recreation, where he is pushing for greater equity for parks in New York’s low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. He is also a leading voice on affordable housing issues, including the fight to get legal representation for all tenants in housing court. As chair of the City Council’s Jewish Caucus, he is focused on combating Jewish poverty in New York City and fostering inter-group relations.
, NYC Parks
, New York
Confirmed SpeakerAlyssa is the Assistant Commissioner for Planning and Development at NYC Parks, overseeing the Planning, Parklands, Revenue, Marinas, Operations and Management Planning and Audit departments. Her division guides agency decisions with respect to the development of the City’s park system to meet the recreational, social and environmental needs of New York City. In this role, she has spearheaded the creation and implementation of major initiatives, including the Community Parks Initiative, a $285 million framework for investing in under-resourced small parks across the City; Parks Without Borders, a program that opens the boundaries of parks to be inclusive of all New Yorkers; Anchor Parks, a $150 million program for investing in large parks across the city; and Walk to a Park, making progress to get 85% of New Yorkers within a walk to a park. She is responsible for Parks' real estate portfolio, and represents the agency in complex development projects and land use transactions, as well as directing over 400 park concessions under the Revenue division. She has expanded Parks engagement on waterfront, marinas and coastal projects, including developing Parks’ first systematic waterfront inspection and planning program, and guiding Parks’ role in climate change. Prior to working at Parks, Alyssa was an Executive Vice President at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where she directed the Planning, Development and Transportation Divisions. During her tenure at NYCEDC, she successfully led a diverse set of waterfront, neighborhood development, transportation, open space and real estate projects. Her work includes the creation of the South Bronx Greenway and West Harlem Piers, unlocking the redevelopment of the Seward Park lots on the Lower East Side, facilitation of Columbia University’s Manhattanville campus expansion, sustaining and growing the East River Ferry service, initiating the City’s first wetland mitigation bank, and advancing strategies that promote economic development. Alyssa received an undergraduate degree in Human Biology from Stanford University and a graduate degree in Urban Planning from Columbia University.
Confirmed SpeakerSusannah C. Drake is the founding principal of DLANDstudio architecture + landscape architecture pllc. The firm, winner of the 2014 AIA New Practices New York Award, has received city, state, and national AIA and ASLA awards. In 2013, Susannah was awarded the AIA Young Architects Award and Fellowship in the ASLA, and was recognized as an Architectural League Emerging Voice. She has received numerous grants and awards for adapting infrastructure corridors for storm water capture, climate resilience and park creation. Susannah is the former President and Trustee of the NYASLA and former Trustee of the Van Alen Institute. She lectures globally about resilient urban infrastructure, and has taught courses at The Cooper Union, Harvard University, Syracuse University, Washington University in St. Louis, Florida International University, The City College of New York, and Illinois Institute of Technology. Susannah delivered the keynote addresses at the 18th Congress of the International Union of Women Architects in Blacksburg, VA in 2015, and at the XXV International Union of Architects World Congress in Durban, South Africa in 2014. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. DLANDstudio’s recent projects include QueensWay, MoMA Rising Currents, BQGreen, and Gowanus Canal Sponge Park™. Susannah received a BA from Dartmouth College and MArch and MLA from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She is a registered architect and a registered landscape architect.
Confirmed SpeakerMitchell J. Silver became Commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation in May 2014. Commissioner Silver is also the immediate past president of the American Planning Association (APA). He is an award-winning planner with over 30 years of experience and he is internationally recognized for his leadership in the planning profession and his contributions to contemporary planning issues. He specializes in comprehensive planning, place making and implementation strategies. As Parks Commissioner, Mitchell Silver oversees management, planning and operations of nearly 30,000 acres of parkland, which includes parks, playgrounds, beaches, marinas, recreation centers, wilderness areas and other assets. Prior to returning to his native New York City as Parks Commissioner, he served as the Chief Planning & Development Officer and Planning Director for Raleigh, NC. His career has included roles as a policy and planning director for Manhattan Borough President's Northern Office, a principal of a New York City-based planning firm, a town manager in New Jersey, and deputy planning director in Washington, DC. Commissioner Silver lectures extensively throughout the United States and abroad on a variety of planning topics. He is a contributing author and editor of International City/County Management Association’s (ICMA) latest edition of “Local Planning: Contemporary Principles and Practice,” which is a resource for local governments engaged in planning. Known by his colleagues as a passionate communicator, creative thinker, problem-solver and visionary leader, Mitchell Silver has been at the center of many cutting edge trends, innovative solutions and visionary plans, including Harlem on the River and Vision for Jamaica Center in New York City and the revitalization of neighborhoods in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, and Raleigh. As president of APA, he led an international effort to elevate the value and rebirth of planning in the 21st century. In 2012, the Urban Times named him one of the top international thought leaders of the built environment today. In 2013, UBM Future Cities named Mitchell Silver as one of the top 100 City Innovators in the world and the Royal Town Planning Institute made him an honorary lifetime member. In 2014, he was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Planning Association. In 2015, he was named a honorary fellow of the Planning Institute of Austrailia and in 2016 he was inducted as a fellow into the Academy of Social Sciences. When Mayor Bill de Blasio named Mitchell Silver as New York City's Parks Commissioner, he called him “a visionary.” The Mayor went on to say: “He has a passion for fairness and equality, and he brings it to the work of government, and understands that we have to ensure that parks and open spaces are available in every community, and are well-maintained in every community in this city.” As planning director in Raleigh, he led the comprehensive plan update process and a rewriting of the development code to create a vibrant 21st century city. Mr. Silver served in Raleigh from 2005 until taking his job at Parks. He was an outspoken advocate for Raleigh and helped transform it into a world-class city with great streets, great places and great neighborhoods. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, The New York Times, The Guardian (U.K.), Philadelphia Inquirer, Huffington Post, Associated Press, Atlantic Cities, the Urban Times, Planning Magazine, the News & Observer, the Charlotte Observer, the Triangle Business Journal , Crain’s Business Journal, BBC World News and National Public Radio (NPR). Commissioner Silver has taught graduate planning courses at Hunter College, Brooklyn College, Pratt Institute and North Carolina State University. He is the Dunlop Lecturer in Housing and Urbanization at Harvard University. Mitchell Silver received a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from Pratt Institute and a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from Hunter College. He is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners and is a licensed Professional Planner in the State of New Jersey.