Hipsters who enjoy partaking in recreational activities are having a fantastic week.
Hot on the heels of news they might be getting more drinking spots, they’ll now have a nice green area where they can look philosophically into the distance and/or stroke their beards (possibly while drunk).
Gettin' High Line
Cycling in Central Park has gotten a lot of attention of late following a few nasty accidents and a campaign by the Daily News—repeated every few years—where intrepid reporters venture into the park, speed guns in hand, to make a stink about scofflaw bikers breaking the 25 mile per hour speed limit. (Hell, if you can get going that fast, that is pretty impressive.)
This is not to suggest that unsafe cycling is ever acceptable, but as more people take to bikes, and the city’s population continues to grow, park pathways are bound to get busier. Action by users is important, but also be operators.
As it has done with Prospect Park, following another spate of high-profile injuries, the city’s Department of Transporation and Parks Department have reached an agreement to change the arrangement of traffic lanes to make more room for bikes and runners and less for vehicles. The measure is meant to make everyone safer.
The High Line. Rejuvenator of neighborhoods, destroyer of neighborhoods.
Those are basically the two media narratives surrounding the elevated park on Manhattan’s West Side, which just held the groundbreaking for its third and final phase today. Most of the attention in the past has been on how great the design-y new park is, but as locals learn to live with the millions of visitors who flock to the park each year, some of them have started to complain, most notably in the Op-Ed pages of the Times, that the High Line has actually ruined, or at least Disneyfied, the neighborhoods surrounding it.
Asked about these changes today, Mayor Bloomberg did not necessarily disagree with the situation, just the sentiment.
Sodom by the Sea
Big, fluffy Bob Ross clouds hung over the Manhattan skyline yesterday afternoon, in full view from one of the best vantage points in the city to view them: Greenpoint’s new Transmitter Park. Almost perfectly parallel with the Empire State Building, the park provides an unparalleled panorama of Midtown and the rest of Manhattan.
Mayor Bloomberg and his Parks Commissioner Veronica White had crossed the river not only to take in the scene but also cut the ribbon on the 1.6-acre, $12 million project. It was Ms. White‘s first official public appearance after replacing Adrian Benepe, who had been in the job since 2001. It was her coming out, if a quiet one, with limited fanfare and few workers. Just another day on the job.
“Our administration has been revitalizing old infrastructure and recasting it in new ways that makes sense for New Yorkers today,” the mayor said proudly, pointing to the success of other projects like the High Line and Brooklyn Bridge Park as well.
But unlike those open space developments, heralded the world over, the waterfront of Williamsburg and Greenpoint has long languished.
With crowds packing the Coney Island Boardwalk, what better time to debate its famous fate.
In the spring, after a heated year-long debate, the city’s Public Design Commission decided to allow the Parks Department to replace the world-renowned walkway with a combination of concrete and plastic promenade that still has locals more steamed than a bucket of boardwalk clams.
Sodom by the Sea
Looks like the leafy canopy in Central Park will finally receive a much-needed trim, thanks to the City Council’s decision to more than double the budget for tree pruning.
The council added $2 million to the existing $1.45 million budget to be used for snipping the park’s overgrown limbs, The New York Times reports. The additional money was part of $30 million in last-minute funding restored to the Parks Department’s budget after citizens and council members cried out against the proposed cuts.
“My name is Michael Greco, and I am a direct descendent of the Greco Romans.” Mr. Greco stood before an overflow crowd in a fluorescent-lit conference room on the fifth floor of 253 Broadway on Monday afternoon, for an otherwise routine meeting of the Public Design Commission. “They built roads, bridges, aqueducts, great structures. My ancestors would be rolling in their grave if they saw this.”
To the 50 or so people packed into the conference room with Mr. Greco, the Rigelmann Boardwalk on Coney Island is their modern day Apian Way, and the New York City Parks Department is a band of marauding Visigoths. Instead of pickaxes and torches, the city is attacking with slabs of concrete and faux wood beams made from recycled plastic.
It seems that the prayers of Dr. Seuss’ lovable Lorax are finally being answered—in the form of MillionTreesNYC. But like all things, it comes at a cost.
Having recently reached its halfway point of planting 500,000 trees in October 2011 (a year ahead of schedule), MillionTreesNYC now faces its biggest obstacle yet: the U.S. economy. Just as nearly every other industry’s budget and workforce are being trimmed, the greenery program is no exception, according to City Limits.
Occupy Wall Street
One of the cornerstones of the Bloomberg administration’s PlaNYC 2030 was ensuring every New Yorker lived within 10 minutes of a park. That is tricky, real estate being the valuable commodity that it is, so building new parks is not always easy—we had to construct one on a derelict railway, for godsakes!
So the administration came up with the clever idea of opening up city schoolyards to the community after school. Today in Jackson Heights, Mayor Bloomberg and the Parks Department celebrated the 200th playground opening.
Robert Lederman, a crusading artist and a bit of crank who was a frequent antagonist of Mayor Giuliani, thinks the Bloomberg administration is being two-faced in expelling the Occupy Wall Street protestors tents from Zuccotti Park. He points to tents set up for holiday markets as the unjust, commercial expropriation of public space.
The holiday vendors have permits, of course, and a portion of their proceeds goes to the parks they occupy, so there appears to be a public good here, whatever your opinion of overpriced tchokes. Mr. Lederman has his own agenda, as he has run afoul of the city for trying to sell art in parks without permits. Still, his thoughts, which he just emailed around, are intriguing in light of last night’s events.