The reservoir's historic structures & ecosystems are an opportunity to create a unique environmental education center for our children & their future.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Parks Department Inequities

The following is another article that illustrates how the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation unfairly distributes its limited resources to the wealthiest neighborhoods. As millions are being spent on this 2 1/2 acre park, the city refuses to lay out any money to fix the dilapidated ball fields at Highland Park.

Advocates for other parks angered by extra security for new High Line
By Joy Resmovits, Kenny Porpora and Erin Einhorn

Daily News writers

Wednesday, June 10th 2009, 5:14 AM

Manhattan's new celeb-backed park in the sky is getting more security resources than other, more sprawling parks in other boroughs, parks advocates charge.

"It's outrageous," steamed Geoffrey Croft of the nonprofit NYC Park Advocates. "One park is being adequately secured with taxpayer money while the rest of the park system is abandoned."

Parks officials counter that the High Line, which opened to the public Tuesday, is a special case.

The unique park lifts visitors 2-1/2 stories above the street in the path of an old elevated train trestle in Chelsea.

"Like many Parks facilities, including swimming pools and beaches, the High Line requires special attention," Parks Department spokeswoman Jama Adams said. "It is 30 feet in the air and has limited capacity and specific access and safety requirements."

She adds that the police patrol every city park and distribute security resources as needed.

Croft, and a leader from the union that represents patrol officers and rangers who do educational work, say the resources for the High Line underscore inequities in the park system.

The city has assigned 11 patrol officers and seven other eyes-and-ears workers to the 3-acre High Line. That's compared to 15 patrol officers, 17 rangers and 56 enforcement workers in all of the Bronx, which has thousands of acres of parkland.

"It's great that they have this amount of personnel at this park but ... the numbers [of safety workers] have dwindled citywide," said Joe Puleo of the urban park rangers union.

Rangers and patrol officers can make arrests and issue tickets for offenses, but Puleo said rangers are mostly charged with educating parkgoers and giving tours.

Brooklyn has 23 patrol officers and 130 other safety and educational workers, the city says. Queens has 18 patrol officers and 121 other workers. Staten Island has 13 patrol officers and 57 other workers and Manhattan's total, including the High Line, is 43 patrol officers and 153 others.

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said the High Line is a "great deal for the city" because most of the ongoing expenses will be covered by contributions to the private Friends of the High Line, which will raise and spend $2 million a year.

Among celebrities who've supported that fund are designer Diane Von Furstenberg and her media mogul husband, Barry Diller, who this month made a $10 million contribution.

Parkgoers interviewed in the Bronx say they feel slighted.

"We can't send kids out to the park alone and feel safe," said Clarence Collins, who was visiting Crotona Park in the Bronx. "Don't let [patrol officers] be down there just because that's where the politicians and the people who vote for them are. If they're on the city payroll, they should be allocated throughout the neighborhoods."

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