Willis Avenue Community Garden

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In the News

Poor and Forgotten, A South Bronx Park Gets A Small Boost

The New York Times March 1, 2015

On Wednesday, the parks department is holding a “scoping session,” or design workshop, for the community in which it will solicit ideas to improve not only the playground, but also the park as a whole. And the New York Restoration Project, a nonprofit group founded by Bette Midler that has transformed struggling parks in poor Manhattan neighborhoods, is now in talks with the parks department about helping St. Mary’s. For parks advocates, the tattered appearance of many parks in low-income areas carries a profound social cost. “If you are a child growing up in a community where everything around you is in disarray, with trash and broken things, it sends a message that you don’t count,” said Deborah Marton, executive director of the New York Restoration Project. “If you walk through a well-maintained open space, even in a low-income community, you feel like your city is investing in you.” Ms. Marton’s group adopted Sherman Creek, a former illegal dump site on the banks of the Harlem River in Upper Manhattan. In the past 10 years, it has created an oasis there, building and maintaining a children’s garden, a boathouse and paths that wend through native plants. In the past year, the New York Restoration Project has worked in Mott Haven on a plan to foster connections between the neighborhood and nearby Randalls Island, with its major athletic complex. In a phone interview, Ms. Marton said it would be premature to describe her discussions with parks officials.

De Blasio And Parks Commissioner Silver Launched Initiative to Build...

City of New York October 7, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP today launched the Community Parks Initiative—a multi-faceted program to invest in under-resourced public parks located in New York City’s densely populated and growing neighborhoods with higher-than-average concentrations of poverty. CPI’s first phase will target 35 community parks through a $130 million capital investment that promotes the full re-creation of these parks, $7.2 million in expense funding for Fiscal Year 2015, and $36.3 million in capital funding from the Department of Environmental Protection for green infrastructure improvements at these sites. CPI’s first phase will target 55 neighborhoods across the five boroughs, reaching approximately 220,000 New Yorkers living within a 10-minute walk of the targeted parks. In its entirety, the initiative’s first phase represents over $173 million in capital and expense funding. “We are thrilled with the Mayor’s thoughtful and well-conceived plan to bring more resources to our city’s public spaces,” said Deborah Marton, Executive Director of New York Restoration Project. “For nearly 20 years, New York Restoration Project has been building and caring for parks and community gardens in our city’s least green, highest-need communities. The Community Parks Initiative increases the impact of this work, and we look forward to partnering with the Mayor and Commissioner Silver to achieve its important goal of creating thriving public spaces for all New Yorkers.”