The long-term maintenance of parks is a challenge in New York City, just as in many other cities around the world. To address shortages in funding and opportunities for enhancements, New York City has a history of employing the “Conservancy” model, which typically takes the form of a non-profit institution that contracts with the NYC Parks Department to operate certain parks and open spaces. This formula has led to beloved new recreational spaces such as Brooklyn Bridge Park, Governors Island, Hudson River Park, and the Highline, and sustains older spaces such as Central Park, Bryant Park, the Battery, and the Bronx Zoo, through capture of revenue and through fundraising of private and philanthropic donations to maintain the parks. While effective in maintaining quality open space, these models, often in practice and as perceived by local communities, have removed accountability and responsibilities from government, promoting exclusivity in uses, and containing amenities that may lack affordability to adjacent communities.
To respond to this challenge, Rebuild by Design and Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in mid-July of 2018 to select a consultant team to write a report identifying precedent park stewardship structures that depart from the typical “conservancy” mode in New York City or the U.S., and make recommendations that would address equity in the park and funding mechanisms for long-term maintenance and operations for East River Park, the first funded section of the BIG U.
The Trust for Public Land and James Lima Planning + Development were chosen to research potential models with the assistance from local community leaders who formed a “study group.” READ THE FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS HERE>>