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City Parks Alliance Day on the Hill

City Parks Alliance members on a "Hill Day" in DC.

Urban parks advocates from across the country traveled to Washington, DC, on Tuesday, April 20th to lobby members of congress in support of city parks. Forty park professionals participated in City Parks Alliance Day on the Hill, which consisted of a legislative overview, training session, and congressional office visits. Participants then attended the the Congressional Urban Parks Briefing, hosted by Rep. Chaka Fattah, (D, PA-2 ), Albio Sires (D, NJ-13), Michael Turner (R, OH-3) and John Lewis (D, GA-5).

The participants visited 56 congressmen and asked for their support for three current city park initiatives:

  1. The Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act (H.R. 3734), which would provide urban areas with matching grants to improve urban parks and recreational opportunities.
  2. The Green Communities Act (H.R. 2222/S. 3055), which would provide funding to municipalities trying to plan and implement green infrastructure projects, such as parks and street trees. The program encourages public-private partnerships to leverage public funding.
  3. Full support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, our nation’s premier federal program to fund land acquisition and protection of federal lands and state and local parks.

Participants reported positive feedback from the day. The hard work and planning of Catherine Nagel and Angie Horn at City Parks Alliance, made the  event a success.

There’s a lot going on right now on the federal level that touches on urban parks in addition to the bills mentioned above. The White House hosted a conference on the great outdoors in which many participants stressed the importance of city parks and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative is emphasizing the need to get kids more physically active and providing better facilities for this.  Having CPA members in Washington to keep pressing the importance of city parks will help push this even more.

EPA Recognizes Outstanding Environmental Organizations in New York

Hunts Point Riverside Park in the South Bronx

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized 22 of New York’s residents and community organizations for their work in environmental protection with its “Environmental Quality Award.” Among those recognized were a handful of outstanding organizations who work in New York City’s parks and public spaces, including GrowNYC, Brooklyn’s El Puente and Prospect Park Alliance, and the Bronx’s Sustainable South Bronx. These organizations play a vital role in supporting community gardens, park improvements, greenways, and community health. Recipients included:

  • GrowNYC, is a New York City non-profit which operates the legendary Greenmarket farmers’ market program and supports community gardens throught the city. It’s Open Space Greening Program provides workshops, supplies, and planning assistance to gardening groups throughout the city and helps develop several new gardens each year. By supporting more than 45 community gardens, GrowNYC has created valuable community green space and helped secure healthy and affordable produce for the city’s residents.
  • Luis Garden Acosta, who founded Brooklyn’s El Puente, a community human rights organization based in Williamsburg’s Southside. El Puente engages community members in the arts, education, scientific research, and environmental advocacy. The organization’s ten year long “Green Light District” initiative fought to reduce pollution and promote physical fitness throughout the community, and has transformed the Southside into a model of community wellness.
  • Prospect Park Alliance formed in 1987 to address the legendary Olmsted park’s dearth of public funding. The alliance has mobilized private support to reverse the park’s deterioration, renovating the park’s playgrounds, restoring hundreds of acres of ailing trees, and repairing the park’s historic landmarks including Grand Army Plaza. Over the past 23 years, these efforts have increased park use by over 300%, proving that successful public-private partnerships can be the key to restoring city parks in decline.
  • Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx), a non-profit dedicated to environmental actions that address community needs. SSBx trains young people to prepare for “green collar” jobs in landscaping, green building, and environmental remediation. The organization has played a central role in designating greenspace in the Bronx, leading the planning effort for the South Bronx Greenway to link the community’s parks, waterfronts, and recreation destinations.

These organizations are leading the charge to create a livable urban environment. We applaud the EPA for connecting their work to the protection of the environment and improvement of living conditions for urban residents.

Delhi: Renewed Streams and Trail Opportunities

Architect Manit Rastogi is seeking to transform the canals of Delhi, India by using new technology to treat sewage and turning the now polluted corridors into a network of bike and pedestrian greenways. In a report and the below video on CNN, Rastogi says the city “will then be interconnected with an eco-friendly and safe transport network.” Reportedly, three pilot projects are being considered.

Cities across the globe contain these linear waterways, and there is great prospect to provide new recreational amenities and safe and pleasant non-motorized transport routes. (In Delhi, nearly 50 percent of all traffic deaths are pedestrians.) Here’s the video:

more about “Dehli: Renewed Streams and Trail Oppo…“, posted with vodpod

Some news from around…

  • The Congressional Urban Parks Task Force met this week, where panelists emphasized the economic value of urban parks and praised the Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Acts (H.R. 3734). The Dirt published a thorough summary.
  • Blair Kamin critiques the green roof movement in Chicago, highlighting the successes of the City Hall Roof and Millennium Park and calling for more thoughtfully-planned, high-quality roofs throughout the city. (Chicago Tribune)
  • The Economist reports that bikeability, good planning and abundant parks distinguish Portland, OR as an elite and desirable city.
  • Another major street closure cum pedestrian plaza planned for New York City. Bloomberg administration begins new push to close 34th street between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas, adjacent to the Empire State Building and Herald Square Park. New York Times

Some news from around….

  • Steven Litt of the Cleveland Plain Dealer looks at the efforts of Indianapolis over the past 30 years to build a riverfront park, museums and other attractions to give the city a feeling of place.
  • The story behind the design of City Garden, the new downtown park that is the buzz of St. Louis, featured in Landscape Architecture magazine.
  • Ed Gleaser makes the point in the NY Times Economix blog that density is correlated with productivity, noting that “Humanity is a social species and our greatest gift is our ability to learn from one another. Cities thrive by enabling that learning, and they have become only more important as knowledge has become more valuable. Understanding what makes cities work is more important than ever.” We say that one thing is to provide great public spaces.
  • The plan for Governor’s Island in New York City from the NY Times; the city just reached a deal to take control of the island from the state and will push ahead with a plan that includes a 2.2-mile-long waterfront promenade and a 40-acre park.
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