This week at St. Mary’s Park in the Bronx, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, and NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver announced that the City will fund $150 million in major improvements at five large parks under the new Anchor Parks initiative. More than 750,000 New Yorkers live within walking distance of the five Anchor Parks, and the new investment will fuel the kind of major amenities needed more in these bigger parks, like new soccer fields, comfort stations, running tracks and hiking trails.
The Mayor and Speaker made the announcement at Saint Mary’s Park in the South Bronx, and were joined by Council Members from the four other anchor parks: Highbridge Park in Manhattan, Betsy Head Park in Brooklyn, Astoria Park in Queens and Freshkills Park on Staten Island.
“New Yorkers deserve to have the greatest parks in the world steps from their homes. That’s why our administration is focused on park equity, which brings fair access to and development of parks across the city. The Anchor Parks program, joined with the Community Parks Initiative and Parks Without Borders, marks another major step in advancing park equity for all New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“I am proud to be part of a team announcing $150 million in capital improvements coming to parks in all five boroughs,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Outdoor spaces like St. Mary’s Park are great equalizers for our city, and this funding makes it clear that every New Yorker, in every neighborhood, deserves access to quality outdoor spaces. I thank Mayor de Blasio and Council Members Mark Levine and Julissa Ferreras-Copeland for their engaged and collaborative work on the Anchor Parks Initiative and look forward to our continued partnership as we work to ensure every New Yorker in every neighborhood in our City has access to quality, open spaces.”
“We call these sites Anchor Parks because they provide a stabilizing, centering force for the communities they serve by offering larger and more diverse resources than smaller community parks. Now, New Yorkers in all boroughs have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make their older parks new again,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP.
Each of the Anchor Parks is slated for $30 million in major improvements. Each was selected based on historical underinvestment, high surrounding population and potential for park development. The Parks Department will commence community outreach beginning this fall to determine which improvements to pursue in each park.
These improvements to larger parks compliment the de Blasio Administration’s Community Parks Initiative, which has targeted more than 60 small neighborhood parks with improvements like new playground equipment, benches, plantings and resurfaced playing courts.
“Many happy hours have been spent playing in Betsy Head Park, enjoying this invaluable recreational space for the children and families of my beloved home of Brownsville,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “Unfortunately, this treasured open space – once a crown jewel of the New Deal-era parks renovated in New York City – has been shamefully allowed to deteriorate, depriving underserved families of a safe, comfortable place to play and enjoy the outdoors. Long-awaited capital improvements will dramatically improve the quality of life for Betsy Head Park’s patrons and visitors, many of whom cannot travel elsewhere for recreation, as well as will support my administration’s ongoing efforts to invest resources in neighborhood parks that have historically been neglected.”
“Rarely does a week go by when I am not contacted by someone involved with youth sports about the need for more fields on Staten Island. And it is frustrating that there is not much available land left to provide these necessary recreational outlets. That is why I brought to the Administration a plan to create new fields on the South Shore, piggybacking on the very successful Owl Hollow Park project. Ultimately, this is an investment in Staten Island’s young people who will have new recreational opportunities where they can learn life lessons on sports fields. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for providing the South Shore of Staten Island with this incredible investment that will positively affect the lives of generations of Staten Islanders,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo.
“Astoria Park offers numerous valuable recreational opportunities for Queens residents and will be even better place to visit thanks to the $30 million in major improvements it will receive under the Anchor Parks program,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “Mayor de Blasio, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and NYC Parks, led by Commissioner Silver, deserve to be commended for spearheading this important program, which will greatly benefit park visitors in all five boroughs.”
“These five parks are the centers of life for their surrounding neighborhoods and beyond,” said Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the Committee on Parks. “The modernization which this historic investment will make possible will help ensure that the Anchor Park serves as engines for healthy community life for many decades to come.”
“Once completed, Fresh Kills Park will be the largest park developed in New York City in over 100 years, and this $30 million in new funding will allow for work to begin on making this land available to the public,” said Council Member Joseph Borelli. “I would like to thank Borough President James Oddo, Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, and Borough Parks Commissioner Lynda Ricciardone for their continued support on the Fresh Kills project.”
Council Member Costa Constantinides said, “This large investment in Astoria Park, and in 4 other parks citywide, will go a long way towards improving our vital greenspace. The upgraded playgrounds, fields, and open areas will reinforce what we already know – Astoria Park has long been the jewel of our neighborhood. Since its inception over 100 years ago, families from across the community have enjoyed this park throughout the year. With these large-scale capital improvements, Astoria Park will have assets and amenities to match its use. I look forward to working with the Parks Department and community stakeholders as these improvements are planned. I thank Mayor de Blasio and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver for their bold vision and transformation action to improve our park.”
“When we talk about ‘parks equity,’ let’s not forget that the people of Staten Island were burdened with the world’s largest landfill for decades before it was closed in 2001. The continued transformation of the Fresh Kills landfill into Freshkills Park is not only important symbolically, it is a significant part of the economic, social and environmental future of the borough and the city. I am extremely pleased the Mayor and Parks Department will make this worthwhile investment in this invaluable natural asset through the Anchor Parks program,” said Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo.
“Highbridge Park is a treasure that our community has long had but that is finally getting the attention and facelifts it deserves,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “With breathtaking views of The Bronx and the Harlem River, the revitalized High Bridge itself, along with hidden hiking trails and even a skate park, these funds will go even further to attract more residents to one of our great parks uptown. I am grateful to the administration and Parks Commissioner Silver for recognizing the value of Highbridge, and we’re eager to see these investments go to reviving this important asset.”
“Almost three times the size of Central Park, Fresh Kills Park has the potential to offer Staten Islanders a wealth of recreational opportunities on a scale we haven’t seen in generations. From kayak launches to art installations, the amenities this park will offer will no doubt make it a top attraction for local residents all across the island. This new $30 million grant for transformative improvements is a significant investment, not just in the park’s 2,200 acres, but in the health and quality of life of the thousands of residents who will enjoy this green space for generations,” said Council Member Debi Rose.
“I’m thrilled Highbridge Park was selected to receive $30 million in funding as part of the Anchor Parks program,” said State Senator Adriano Espaillat. “This funding will further enhance this great Upper Manhattan destination.”
“Astoria Park is a family-friendly, historic green space that is beloved by our entire community. Continuing to preserve our parks is essential to our neighborhood’s quality of life and I look forward to seeing the new infrastructure this great investment will bring forward,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris.
“Today’s announcement is great news for sports-loving Staten Islanders. With this $30 million allocation to develop the next phase of fields for Owl Hollow at Fresh Kills Park, Mayor de Blasio and the City Council are helping to fulfill a vision that we started during my time in the City Council. I applaud our Council delegation and Borough President Oddo for effectively highlighting the continued potential for recreational amenities at Fresh Kills,” said State Senator Andrew Lanza.
“As Freshkills Park continues to open its doors to the people of Staten Island, it gives me tremendous pride that it has been so well received by our borough. Today’s generous commitment by the Mayor’s Office and the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation will help provide future generations of Staten Islanders with world class amenities including hiking, cycling, watersports, athletic fields, and so much more. I look forward to working with all involved parties on making Freshkills Park the Anchor Park of Staten Island,” said Assembly Member Michael Cusick.
“It’s truly inspiring to see that an area that was once a blemish on Staten Island, and the City of New York, is now becoming a point of pride. I thank the Parks Department and City Hall for their commitment to Freshkills Park and ensuring that it realizes its maximum potential. Today, Freshkills is no longer a garbage dump but, instead, a park filled with nature’s beauty and recreational activities for all Staten Islanders to enjoy,” said Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis.
“I am pleased that New York City is following through on its commitment to transform Fresh Kills Park from a literal dump to an amazing asset for the community,” said Assembly Member Matthew Titone.
“Astoria Park is a jewel of our city and it gives the people of Western Queens a necessary respite, surrounded by nature, from the hustle and bustle of city-life. As a life-long Astorian raising my own daughter in the neighborhood, I’m delighted that the park is getting the resources it deserves. This will make a huge difference, not only in the beauty of the park, but also its recreational opportunities,” said Assembly Member Aravella Simotas.
“I remember closing the landfill during my time as Guy Molinari’s Chief of Staff. As Fresh Kills transforms from a blight to a Staten Island treasure, critical funding allocations like what Mayor de Blasio announced today are necessary. I look forward to working collaboratively with my partners in government to continue this great progress,” said Congressman Dan Donovan.
“This major investment in anchor parks is a vote of confidence in the power of parks to strengthen communities. NY4P has studied parks across New York City, and we’ve found that these anchor parks are truly essential to the health and wellness of the neighborhoods they serve – these are large, resource-rich parks that pull communities together,” said Tupper Thomas, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks.
“Access to parks and open space are essential components of urban planning and assist in developing active, healthy, and vibrant urban centers while also caring for our communities. St. Mary’s Park’s inclusion in the Anchor Parks program will significantly transform aging park elements to ensure this jewel of the South Bronx is available for generations of Bronxites to enjoy. SoBRO in partnership with BronxWorks, New York Restoration Project, Friends of St. Mary’s Park, and the City of New York will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that St. Mary’s and all open space provide a healthy, safe, and active environment where Bronxites can live, work, and thrive,” said Michael C. Brady, Director of Special Projects and Governmental Relations, South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SoBRO).
“I think it is awesome for Mayor de Blasio to invest in upgrading and beautifying Besty Head Park,” said Wadud Burns, Community Development Director of Brownsville Think Tank Matters.
“For decades, St Mary’s Park—the largest park in The South Bronx and New York City’s FIRST full service park— has languished in disrepairs to the point of it being an embarrassment for locals. When New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito stepped up and allocated $1.5 million in funding for upgrades to St Mary’s Playground West last year, it was the beginning of a step in the right direction. Now, with the sorely needed $30 million in capital fundscommitted by Mayor de Blasio, St Mary’s Park can be restored to the beautiful park we know it to be and the park our community deserves,” said Ed Garcia Conde, Founder and Editor Welcome2TheBronx.
“Astoria Park is the Crown Jewel of our community and we are ecstatic that this Mayor recognizes the importance of the Park’s capital needs. We are greatly appreciative for the funds being provided as part of the Anchor Parks initiative,” said Florence Koulouris, District Manager for Queens Community Board 1.
“Hooray! Astoria Park Alliance celebrates the designation of Astoria Park as an Anchor Park! This significant capital investment will breathe new life into our beloved shared space, and will provide Astoria Park users a wonderful public land where we can continue to build community for generations to come,” said Martha Lopez-Gilpin, Chair of the Astoria Park Alliance.
“Astoria Park is an oasis in Western Queens used by families and people of all ages and this investment will help restore the Park to its former glory,” said Marie Torniali, Executive Director of the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition.
“Wow! This is a long overdue investment in one of our landmark parks and right on time for Besty Head Park. Thank Mayor de Blasio…this is wonderful!” said Viola Walker, District Manager for Community Board 16.