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Some News from Around…

  • Texas Parks and Wildlife wins top social media award (Hispanic Business)
  • Grand Rapids considers a smoking ban in city parks (MLive)
  • Dallas City Council approves updated downtown parks master plan
    (Dallas News)
  • New York City’s parks get a passing grade, but problems remain
    (New York Times)
  • Toronto wants to make urban parks a priority (Toronto Star)

February’s Frontline Park

Each month, City Parks Alliance recognizes a “Frontline Park” to promote and highlight inspiring examples of urban park excellence, innovation, and stewardship across the country. The program also seeks to highlight examples of the challenges facing our cities’ parks as a result of shrinking municipal budgets, land use pressures, and urban neighborhood decay.

R.V. Burgess Park

R.V. Burgess Park

R.V. Burgess Park is a small greenspace located in the middle of a dense high rise tower development called the Thorncliffe Park Community.  Built in the 1970s, the community and its amenities were meant to serve a maximum population of 12,000 people.  The area now has more than 30,000 people, mostly recent immigrants, and such a large number of children that the elementary school located next to the park is the largest in North America, with 900 enrolled in kindergarten alone.  As the main recreation area for the community’s youth population, R.V. Burgess Park was woefully inadequate, made even more so when the only playground equipment was torn down in 2006 after being deemed unsafe.

Community garden

Community garden

The park’s downslide was halted when six women from the community – professionals and mothers who met in the park – formed the Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee in 2008. Initially, the Committee focused on bringing playground equipment back into the park, but the organization now advocates for development and implementation of a variety of public space enhancement projects. Thanks to the work of the committee and a partnership with the City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division, R.V. Burgess Park not only has a playground, it has a splash pad, a community garden, new turf and programming such as weekly bazaars and arts and cultural events. This small park has become a playground, a cultural center, an arts center, a market, and common meeting space for thousands of people.

The R.V. Burgess story is just beginning. There are plans to install a community tandoor oven in Spring 2013, and a playground with brand new equipment in 2015. The Committee hopes to establish recreation-focused programs, like walking clubs and swimming groups. And the appeal of the park is reaching beyond its neighborhood borders, bringing people from all over Toronto to its weekly bazaars and winter carnival.

For more on R.V. Burgess Park and the Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee, please visit:

Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee

City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division

The Miracle of R.V. Burgess Park

The “Frontline Parks” program is made possible with generous support from DuMor, Inc. and PlayCore.

Some News From Around…

  • This spring, ground will be broken on a $3.25 million renovation of Military Park in downtown Newark. (New York Times)
  • A federally funded survey has identified the top 10 cities for urban forests. (USA Today)
  • San Bernardino’s economic decline is having a negative effect on the city’s urban parks, but residents are looking for ways to save them. (San Bernardino Sun)
  • City Slicker Farms breaks ground on a new urban park and farm in Oakland. (East Bay Express)
  • Locals push back against a proposal to build a shopping center in one of Sydney’s most important urban parks.  (Sydney Morning Herald)

Register Now for the 2012 International Urban Parks Conference

Registration has now opened for this summer’s International Urban Parks Conference!  Join us July 14-17 in New York City for Greater & Greener: Re-Imagining Parks for 21st Century Cities. Presented by City Parks Alliance in partnership with NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, Greater & Greener will take place in the city that pioneered the urban park in America 150 years ago and still today is a living lab for urban open space innovation.

The conference will be a four-day immersion in best practices and bold new thinking that can be taken home and applied to green space planning the world over. Its plenaries and workshops — more than 40 of which are coordinated with outdoor tours — will let you experience New York City’s visionary park lessons first hand. Customize your conference experience by building your own program from the more than 100 sessions and events taking place at New York University and throughout the city.

  • Hear thoughts on new park design as a driver of community redevelopment
  • Discover new revenue streams from public and private sources
  • Explore the latest uses of social media for fundraising and advocacy
  • See how eco-design technologies are bringing water, wildlife and whimsy back to urban neighborhoods
  • Listen to experts who’ll help you measure impact and maintain your park effectively
  • Learn how to forge alliances with civic groups, elected officials, private organizations, the National Park Service and entrepreneurs!

Sign up early to bike with the NYC Parks & Recreation Commissioner, kayak down the Hudson, canoe on the Bronx River, visit new green markets and park-based foodie meccas, and join us across the East River in Brooklyn for a marvelous evening of food, wine and breathtaking Manhattan skyline views under the Brooklyn Bridge, in the city’s newest sustainable waterfront park.

Don’t miss an unparalleled opportunity from July 14-17, 2012 to catch up with colleagues, make new contacts, and network with leaders in urban park innovation across North America and around the world!  Visit www.urbanparks2012.org for more details.

 

Visions of Closing Roads and Creating Parks

A previous post highlighted a few cities that closed roads through parks to increase pedestrian and non-motorized use. We’ve recently learned about a proposal to temporarily close streets to traffic during weekends and holidays in Buenos Aires and bring in portable playground equipment and benches to turn these roads into parks. A video of this concept is below:

The “Plaza Movil Street Park” was one of three winners of the Philips Livable Cities Award, a global initiative designed to generate innovative, meaningful and achievable ideas to improve the health and wellbeing of city-dwellers across the world. The creator of the Plaza Movil Street Park received a grant of €25,000 to help translate his concept into reality.

Also worth viewing is the video of one of the five finalists, who brings a plan a little closer to home. The “Design Your Own Park Competition” in Binghamton, NY would turn neglected, urban spaces into parks by having neighborhood residents and groups submit designs in a contest, with the winning vision ultimately created and maintained as a public park.