At the Soundview Park groundbreaking on Monday, June 18th, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that I have accepted the position of Senior Vice President for City Park Development at the Trust for Public Land. I made this decision with a very heavy heart—as you may imagine, I have called Parks home for more than 30 years, and it will be difficult for me to say goodbye to the people and the places in this City that I have come to cherish. But I know that the closing of one door is the opening of another, and I hope to take the many successes and ideas that we have created together here in New York and share them with many of our nation’s cities. With Mayor Bloomberg’s extraordinary leadership and first Deputy Mayor Patti Harris’s dedication to great parks, urban design, public art and culture, and with the huge support of donors and volunteers, we have presided over an unprecedented expansion and improvement of our park system.
In the meantime, we have an important and exciting task at hand, as millions of New Yorkers and visitors will rely on us to provide them with a clean, safe, and enjoyable parks experience this summer. I look forward to working towards that goal one last time, and I hope that our summer here at Parks will be nothing short of excellent. Veronica White, the Executive Director of New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) since its founding in 2006, will serve as the next Parks Commissioner upon my departure. At the CEO, Ms. White works with City agencies to design and implement evidence-based initiatives aimed at poverty reduction. Commissioner White earned a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a JD from Harvard Law School. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Ms. White was a consultant specializing in strategic business planning and management for non-profits, real estate development and environmental issues, and public-private partnerships prior to leading the CEO. She will be an outstanding Parks Commissioner!
Soundview Park Groundbreaking
Mayor Bloomberg and I were joined by Bronx Borough Commissioner Hector Aponte and others to break ground on renovations at Soundview Park this past Monday. Soundview is one of eight regional parks that are being radically transformed under the Mayor’s PlaNYC program, which seeks to provide more green space and fitness opportunities for the City’s growing population. Over $15 million will be invested in projects that include a new track and field facility with a synthetic turf soccer field, an outdoor fitness center with a misting station, a playground, and an outdoor amphitheatre, among other amenities. Together with other projects recently completed in the park, we will have spent $43 million to transform this important park. Not bad at all for a site that was once a landfill!
This week, we recognize the outstanding team of Civic Corps working at MillionTreesNYC as Outreach Coordinators: Neil Barrett, Kimberley Davy and Sarah Dougherty. In collaboration with AmeriCorps, the NYC Civic Corps unites a diverse group of professionals for 10 months of full-time service, working with City agencies and non-profits to increase volunteer engagement. Neil, Kim, and Sarah have worked with MillionTreesNYC since last August to expand outreach and increase tree care awareness in all five boroughs, and they have been nominated by NYC Service for the prestigious “Host Site of the Year” award. Together they conducted outreach in all five boroughs to notify community members about upcoming street tree plantings. Never afraid to innovate, they piloted themed tree care events, including a “Love Your Tree” Valentine’s Day workshop as well as a Father’s Day workshop, capitalizing on cultural holidays to increase tree stewardship. Through dedication and persistence, they cultivated community partnerships in the Trees for Public Health neighborhoods and strengthened stewardship in areas home to vulnerable trees.
Each outreach coordinator went above and beyond the call of duty on their individual projects. Sarah created a "TreeMix" rap video as a teaching tool for her workshops with kids; Kimberley bolstered students' environmental actions with the new GreenPoints Education Program; and Neil conducted and analyzed an invaluable survey of New Yorkers who have requested trees, allowing Parks to better understand what motivates an individual to ask for a MillionTreesNYC street tree. Together, they are a strong and supportive team. By collaborating on new ideas and encouraging each other's efforts, Neil, Kim and Sarah demonstrate their commitment to their work and to MillionTreesNYC. Hats off to them!