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A New Park for New-ark

Newark kids participating in the design of Nat Turner Park.

There are some great things going on with parks and neighborhood renewal in Newark, New Jersey, the state’s largest city just a stone’s throw from New York City and struggling to recover after years of decline. Today, the city opened a new park, thirty years after the city purchased the land. The Newark Star Ledger:

The city purchased a multi-acre plot across from the Felix Fuld Housing Complex in the mid 1970s. It sat unused for decades. Bernard Chase III, 40, said he played pick-up football games in the vacant lot as a kid.

Chase, a member of the group Friends of Nat Turner Park and a Pop Warner football coach, will now be able to watch his team play on a brand new synthetic turf field.

That field and other features of the nine-acre facility were opened today in a ribbon-cutting ceremony that attracted, among others, Mayor Cory Booker, former New York Giant running back Tiki Barber, and an official from the White House.

Aside from the turf field, the park includes a 400-meter regulation track, picnic areas, and a playground. Nat Turner Park is part of a public-private partnership between the city and The Trust for Public Land. Mayor Booker and the city dedicated $3 million to the park’s construction, New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection provided about $5 million and the rest of the $9 million project came from private donations. More information can be found in TPL’s press release.

Shoehorned Parks

Cities are beginning to look past conventional methods of acquiring and creating parkland and turning to a cadre of different ways to create usable space. In an article for Landscape Architecture (pdf ), Peter Harnik looks at some of these methods, starting:

Are you regularly told that your city is “all built out” and has no room for new parks, even though there seem to be plenty of new high-rises, parking lots, and shopping malls? Is it perhaps time to start looking for new urban parkland in untraditional places? That is exactly what’s beginning to happen in densely packed cities.

Harnik goes on to provide examples of cemeteries being used as parks (as they were once intended), rooftops of public buildings, community gardens nestled into the urban fabric, covering reservoirs with parkland as has been done in Seattle, doubling stormwater features as park amenities, closing down park roadways and removing parking, as Pittsburgh did to create the great Schenley Plaza.

(The article is a snapshot of a longer book to be released by Island Press on the wider topic of planning for and finding parkland in cities, coming out next year.)

Great Green Places: Dupont Circle

Like the famous Supreme Court decision on a certain topic, you know a good public place when you see it. But what is it that makes these spaces work?

The National Building Museum is presenting a series of mini-documentaries identifying these characteristics in what they call Great Green Places. According to the Museum:

By “green” we don’t necessarily mean lush parks (although many of the featured places have successful landscape elements), but sustainable locations that meet five criteria:

  • Landscape: a place that is successful uniting site planning and landscape design;
  • Mixed Use: a place that demonstrates a variety of retail, housing, and commercial uses;
  • Sense of Place: a place that physically embraces its history and culture;
  • Streetscape: a place that is pedestrian-friendly with activated public spaces; and
  • Transit Options: a place that encourages and supports multiple forms of transportation including subway, bus, and biking.

In one video, Museum curator Susan Piedmont-Palladino visits Washington’s Dupont Circle. The video provides a great overall description of all the factors that make the Circle such a vibrant park — venturing outside the park to describe the synergy created by the array of uses and stores on its perimeter. The video shows what Jane Jacobs called “the ballet” of users of a good public park.

more about “Great Green Places: Dupont Circle“, posted with vodpod

The Museum will be requesting videos from the public later in the program. Perhaps there’s a park or place in your city worth documenting.

Streetsblog Visits Broadway’s New Public Spaces

Mark Gorton takes us through the newly closed-to-car areas of Broadway in New York City.

Video on Seoul’s Reborn Stream

Andrew Revkin of the New York Times provides a great video and backstory of the “daylighted” stream in Seoul, North Korea involving the tearing down of a highway and construction of the waterway and linear park.

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