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Calvert Vaux Park

The Daily Plant : Monday, April 20, 2009

Mayor Bloomberg & City Parks Foundation Announce New Catalyst Parks That Will Receive Targeted Influx Of Public And Private Investment

On Friday, April 17, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, City Parks Foundation Executive Director David Rivel and Katie Ellman, President of Green Shores NYC announced the latest round of the four-year Catalyst for Neighborhood Parks, a public-private partnership that combines City-funded capital improvements with the City Parks Foundation’s privately funded arts, sports, education and community-building programs. The Mayor also detailed results from the previous four-year project, all aimed at revitalizing parks throughout New York City with strong community involvement and support.

“Over the past four years, the sixteen parks of the Catalyst initiative have helped reinvigorate the communities they are part of,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “By working together, neighborhoods across the City are reclaiming their parks and the future of their neighborhoods. We look forward to achieving similar results in even more City neighborhoods during the next phase of the Catalyst initiative.”

The next phase of the Catalyst will revive three significant waterfront sites – Soundview Park in the Bronx; East River Park in Manhattan; and Calvert Vaux and Kaiser Parks in Brooklyn – over 350 acres of parkland. City Parks Foundation will provide $5 million worth of staff time and programming in the parks to identify, connect, and strengthen parks stewards and help local groups engage effectively in citywide policy and advocacy efforts, overseen by Partnerships for Parks, a joint program of the Parks Department and City Parks Foundation.

For its part, the City is making a combined total of $130 million in capital improvements in these park regions over the next four years. As a result, other public and private investment in these parks will grow as community interest and involvement in the parks increases, resulting in better waterfront parks and citizens who are empowered to protect these precious assets.

“By building interest in local parks, connecting people together to envision a positive future for their neighborhoods, and sustaining broad support for parks over time, the Catalyst program is dramatically increasing parks usage and contributing to the health and vibrancy of communities citywide,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Benepe. “The Catalyst program has been so successful that we now use it as a model for gathering community input and building local involvement in all of our parks projects and programming.”

“The success of the Catalyst initiative is not measured in the number of capital projects advanced or in the number of dollars spent, but in the capacity created within each community to shape the future of their parks and neighborhoods through active and sustained partnerships with city government and a variety of stakeholders around these parks,” said Executive Director of City Parks Foundation David Rivel.

In 2004, the Catalyst program launched in four regions of the city – the Astoria and Long Island City waterfront in Queens; Harlem in Manhattan; Highbridge in the Bronx and Manhattan; and Red Hook in Brooklyn. Originally chosen for their potential for improvement, the four Catalyst sites have experienced significant transformations over the past four years: the number of organizations and groups active in the parks has doubled, volunteer hours have increased by 380 percent, attendance at free sports instruction and concerts has increased by 160 percent, and capital investments have topped $100 million – five times the original amount committed.

Major successes of Catalyst include millions to restore and reopen the historic High Bridge connecting the Bronx and Manhattan and reconstruct the Marcus Garvey Park bandshell in Harlem; Green Shores NYC, a local parks group cultivated through the last Catalyst initiative has become a strong advocate for Astoria and Long Island City parks; positive community relations in Red Hook built through after-school programs and consistent and ongoing dialogue with park planners.

Support for the Catalyst for Neighborhood Parks initiative has also been provided by: the Altman Foundation; the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; Independence Community Foundation; The J.M. Kaplan Fund; Merck Family Fund; National Fish & Wildlife Foundation; New York Community Trust; The Scherman Foundation; The Starr Foundation; The Timberland Company; New York City Environmental Fund; New York State Department of State Office of Coastal, Local Government and Community Sustainability; New York State Department of State Quality Communities Program; the New York City Council under the leadership of Speaker Christine C. Quinn; Hon. Carolyn Maloney, Member of Congress, 14th District; Hon. Gregory Meeks, Member of Congress, 6th District; Hon. Jose Serrano, Member of Congress, 16th District; Hon. Nydia Velazquez, Member of Congress, 12th District; Hon. Velmanette Montgomery, NYS Senator, 18th District; Hon. George Onorato, NYS Senator, 12th District.

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

“I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
(1803 – 1882)

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