The Daily Plant : Tuesday, May 25, 2004
UNITED IN PURPOSE, RESIDENTS SPRUCE UP NEW YORK CITY’S PARKS
The Ninth Annual "It’s My Park!" Day was held on Saturday, May 15, 2004. It’s My Park! Day is organized by Partnerships for Parks, a joint program of Parks & Recreation and City Parks Foundation, and is designed to encourage volunteerism and promote stewardship in parks. Twice a year, thousands of New Yorkers band together to care for and celebrate their neighborhood parks by participating in clean-up and restoration projects. This spring, Parks & Recreation and local community groups organized 167 volunteer projects and 23 events at 142 parks. Nearly 4,500 volunteers restored park trails and flagstone paths, planted flowers and trees, painted and mended park fences, and discussed ways to improve their local parks to benefit all members of the community.
Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe helped kick off the day at Manhattan’s High Bridge Park with City Parks Foundation Executive Director David Rivel and over a hundred volunteers from the New York Junior League, Friends of Highbridge, and New York Cares. Friends of Highbridge Park and New York Cares continued to restore the meadow behind the High Bridge Tower, planting native species and sprucing up the park. The New York Junior League has been revitalizing the park for the past two months as part of their annual Playground Improvement Project, painting murals, restoring grassy areas, and planting flowers in front of the Recreation Center. On Saturday, they completed their projects and painted near the pool deck.
As Commissioner Benepe made his rounds throughout the city, he also visited Brooklyn’s Monsignor McGolrick Park, the Bronx’s Ciccarone Playground, and Queens’ Travers Park.
Parks & Recreation, City Parks Foundation, and Partnerships for Parks staff made the day run smoothly by supporting the efforts of over 160 community groups—getting supplies out to sites, coordinating projects, and hosting events. A number of Council Members participated in Saturday’s events as well. Letitia James stopped by Crispus Attucks, Dennis P. Gallagher volunteered at Juniper Valley Park, Helen Sears at Travers Park, and Joseph Addabbo at Veterans Circle, and at Rockaway, Lefferts and Joseph Addabbo Playgrounds. Assembly Member Michael Gianaris volunteered his time at Ralph DeMarco Park.
At Staten Island’s Eibs Pond Park, nearly 175 New Yorkers joined the Friends of Eibs Pond Park to clean up the park and wood-chip its trails. At Brooklyn’s Monsignor McGolrick Park, the D.O.G. Association cleaned-up the dog run, and at Kaiser Park, 75 people from Friends of Kaiser Park and the Urban Divers cleaned up the waterfront. At Sunset Park, volunteers from Friends of Sunset Park and the Sunset Park Garden Club spruced up the park and planted flowers.
In the Bronx’s Ciccarone Playground, students and teachers from Middle School 45 painted games on the asphalt and mended benches. In Queens’ Travers Park, 40 volunteers from Friends of Travers Park painted fences and planted perennials. At Queensbridge Park, volunteers from the Queensbridge Park Committee and the Center for Court Innovation pruned shrubs and painted benches.
Crotona Park also had its share of support. "It’s My Park! Day is a remarkable event," said Crotona Park Administrator Steve Cain. "Part of my job is to generate community support and interest in the park. It’s My Park! Day provides a great opportunity for neighborhood residents to come out and show their commitment to the park through volunteering, with the bonus of seeing the fruits of their labor at the end of the day. Crotona Park was noticeably cleaner and brighter with the addition of many new plants and flowers. My staff and I were grateful for their help and hope even more people turn out for a repeat appearance this fall."
It's My Park! Day is part of a nationwide celebration of urban parks, including Philadelphia Cares About Fairmount Park Day on May 15 and Plant Yourself in the Park in Boston on June 5. These celebrations are designed to highlight the importance of urban parks. Each year, the number of participants—as well as the diversity of projects—continues to expand. It’s My Park! Day’s success can be attributed, in part, to a growing interest in volunteerism, to the many divisions of Parks & Recreation and City Parks Foundation that provided opportunities to get involved, and to more effective community outreach that has tapped into established volunteer groups, supported the development of new groups, and reached out to individuals interested in volunteering. Across the city, people of all ages demonstrated their love of parks. In addition to cleaning and caring for parks, It’s My Park! Day encourages New Yorkers to celebrate their parks and offers events from City Parks Foundation’s Puppets in the Parks, free tennis lessons, and a host of Recreation and Urban Park Ranger activities.
"It's My Park! Day is a chance for volunteers in all five boroughs to get involved in the life of their neighborhood park," remarked David Rivel. "We had nearly 4,500 people come out to over 150 sites across the city, so it was one of the biggest spring days we have ever had."
For more information about It’s My Park! Day, please visit www.itsmypark.org.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"I do not condemn the cult of pleasure;
I lament the general vulgarity."
In Light of India, 1995