The Battery

The Daily Plant : Thursday, September 27, 2001

Letter from Commissioner Stern

Dear Friends of Parks,

If ever there was a moment when the value of urban parks was manifest, it is now. One week after a rally for parks in Union Square, that site became host to the city’s largest memorial to the terrorist attacks and the losses suffered by New York.

In every corner of public space, similar rituals have emerged. People are lighting candles, writing messages, leaving flowers and flags in their neighborhood parks. They’re consoling one another and sharing opinions in neighborhood parks. Our city has sustained a tremendous loss but with your help, parks can play an important role in the psychological recovery of the city.

New York’s more than 28,000 acres of parks and playgrounds are yours to use, whether it’s to memorialize with friends or reaffirm your daily routine. They are also places where you can help. The impulse to volunteer can and should be directed toward our parks because as you strengthen parks, you will strengthen our city. Volunteers have helped bring out the beauty in our parks and highlight their value to New York. The symbolism of such acts of volunteerism is now greater than ever. If you’re interested, please call 1-800-201-PARK.

Our parks are open and fully operational. Our primary goal, as always, is to ensure that New York’s green spaces are safe, clean, and available for peaceful activity. In addition, since September 11, Parks has dedicated its best efforts toward making all of New York City as safe as it can be. Let me share with you a few examples of how we were able to be helpful.

By the night of Tuesday, September 11 our Operations offices had rallied six light towers and hundreds of gloves, goggles, dust masks, and raincoats from every borough to be transported to Ground Zero. All of our vehicles were fueled and staffed with drivers on alert to operate rescue and shuttle services. Park Managers staffed a 24-hour phone desk at the Mayor’s command center to coordinate this work. Recreation Centers in every borough hosted special afterschool activities for children.

Randall’s Island became a staging ground for the National Guard. Orchard Beach was closed to serve as a helicopter landing. The World’s Fair Marina extended ferry services to rescue workers, and all other marinas were closed to serve as security checkpoints.

Our computer teams have worked with other City agencies to establish an Emergency Mapping and Data Center, which so far has processed 700 map requests from sources as diverse as the Fire Department of New York, FEMA, the Red Cross, and the Department of Defense.

Last week, the members of our Urban Park Service rescued over 1,000 house pets from Battery Park City apartments and assisted residents in retrieving their belongings.

The parks in District 1 in lower Manhattan have been cleared of dust and debris. No structural damage was done, but some flowerbeds will need to be replanted and lawns reseeded.

For more information about these and other help efforts, please refer to issues of The Daily Plant from September 13, 2001 through September 25, 2001.

I am proud to write to you of Parks’ contributions thus far, and I invite you to enjoy those parks that are at the center of our public life. Our public spaces are a measure of our good health. If you take the pulse of parks today, I’ll think you’ll find that they are vital.

Fortunately, no Parkies were harmed on September 11. I send my best wishes to all New Yorkers and especially to those who are mourning the loss of friends and families.

All the best,

Henry J. Stern


(Thursday, September 29, 1988)


Big turtles, small ones, fat ones, even snapping ones will be exhibited at Central Park’s Turtle Pond this weekend, offering New Yorkers of all ages a chance to meet turtles face to face and enjoy an afternoon of reptilian-related recreation, arts and crafts, and educational activities.

"Turtlemania," which takes place Saturday, October 1 from 1 to 4 P.M. in the middle of the park near Belvedere Castle at 81st Street, is being presented by Parks in association with Rowntree DeMet’s, makers of Turtles candy. The event will feature turtles from New York State and around the country. The raindate is Sunday, October 2 at 1:30 P.M.


"This is one of those cases in which the imagination is baffled by the facts."

Sir Winston Spencer Churchill (1874-1965)

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