How We Build Parks
NYC Parks provides safe, attractive, resilient, and accessible park and playground facilities for all New Yorkers and visitors to use and enjoy. One of the ways we achieve this goal is by designing, procuring, and building capital projects.
A project is deemed eligible for capital funding if it is a long-term infrastructure investment greater than $35,000 that will be in place for more than five years. Examples of capital projects include the construction or reconstruction of parks and playgrounds, ball fields, comfort stations and recreation centers, greenways, shoreline and natural areas, as well as street tree planting and the purchase of vehicles and computer equipment.
NYC Parks’ Capital Projects division oversees and manages the agency’s hundreds of active capital projects. The division includes landscape architects, architects, surveyors, engineers, attorneys, city planners, construction project managers and administrative professionals. The NYC Parks Capital Projects division is the largest single employer of landscape architects in the country.
The Capital Process
A Parks capital project officially begins when we hold a scope meeting with the project stakeholders to get feedback on the priorities for a site. However, there are several steps in our process before a project can officially begin. First, a need is identified for a park or park facility, in what we call the needs assessment phase. In this phase, we create a cost estimate for the need and request funding for the project. Each year, we find out in late June/early July which potential projects receive funding. Once funding is secured, we begin the project initiation phase. Our Capital Projects division assigns an in-house staff member or procures a design consultant for fully-funded projects, and holds a pre-scope meeting with stakeholders from NYC Parks and other City agencies to discuss any issues at the site.
The capital process has three main phases – design, procurement and construction. A short description of the milestones in each phase and corresponding percent completions is below. These milestones and percentages relate to what is shown on the capital tracker.
- Scope Meeting (5%)
- Schematic Design Development (30%)
- External Schematic Design Approval (35%)
- Construction Document Development (50%)
- Construction Document Review (80%)
- Final Document Review (90%)
Scope Meeting (5%)
After the pre-scope meeting, the Parks Department will schedule a scope meeting with key community stakeholders (i.e. elected officials, community board members, neighborhood user-groups, members of the public), to determine the priorities and park elements for a project site. The scope meeting is the official start date of a project.
If a project is an in-kind replacement (in other words, if the capital project is building something substantially similar to what had existed before), we may decide not to hold a scope meeting. In this case, the pre-scope meeting marks the official start date of a project.
Schematic Design Development (30%)
After the scope meeting, Parks creates a conceptual design for the site, incorporating survey, tree assessment and site testing data. The conceptual design is developed further into a schematic design. Once the schematic design is approved internally, it is ready to be presented to the community and regulatory agencies.
External Schematic Design Approval (35%)
When required, we present the schematic design to the Community Board, and then the Public Design Commission and/or the Landmarks Preservation Commission for review and approval. External schematic review is not required if a project is an in-kind replacement. Once all external design approvals are received, we begin to develop contract documents, which provide contractors detailed information about how to build a project.
Construction Document Development (50%)
Since it takes 4-5 months to develop construction documents, we mark the approximate halfway point of the process to ensure that we are on track.
Construction Document Review (80%)
When contract documents are developed to about 80 percent, we have a review from our internal construction staff and Maintenance & Operations staff to ensure the project can be built and maintained as designed. We also apply for any requisite permits from additional regulatory agencies.
Final Document Review (90%)
At 90 percent contract document development, we have final sign-offs from internal Parks units and external agencies.
Design Complete (100%)
When contract documents are completed, we move to our procurement phase.
The average time to complete the design phase is 10-16 months. The total funding amount displayed on the capital tracker during design is a range based on the scope of work of the project.
Legal Review (5%)
- Contractor Bid Solicitation (40%)
- Bid Opening & Review/Vendor Review (60%)
- Contract Awarded & Pending Registration (85%)
- Contract Registered with Comptroller’s Office (100%)
Our procurement process follows applicable rules, including New York City’s Procurement Policy Board (PPB) rules, as well as policies and procedures implemented by the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services (MOCS), which ensures that we competitively bid and award our projects to qualified contractors.
Pre-Solicitation/Legal Review (5%)
After a project is completed in design, the contract book is reviewed by both Parks legal staff and the New York City Corporation Counsel.
Contractor Bid Solicitation (40%)
We then advertise the project and review the bids received.
Bid Opening & Review/Vendor Review (60%)
Working with other city agencies to conduct due diligence, we award the contract to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder.
Contract Awarded & Pending Registration (85%)
The contractor awarded the contract provides additional information to Parks and we submit a package to the New York City Comptroller’s Office for registration of the contract. At this time, we also set up a pre-construction meeting with the contractor to discuss the construction process, determine a start date (Order to Work), and order long-lead items needed to build the project.
Contract Registered with Comptroller’s Office (100%)
Once a contract is registered with the Comptroller’s Office, the procurement process is complete.
The average time to complete the procurement phase is nine months. The total funding amount displayed on the capital tracker during procurement is a range based on the engineer’s estimate for the project.
- Order to Work Date Set (0%)
- Active Construction Progress (variable %)
Since the majority of our work is weather dependent, we typically start our projects in the spring, summer, or fall, when the weather is warmer.
Order to Work Date Set (0%)
The Order to Work date is the official start date for construction. During construction, the contractor builds the project according to the contract documents developed during the design phase of the process.
Active Construction Progress (variable %)
Construction staff oversees the daily operations of the project to ensure it’s built to Parks’ specifications and to resolve any issues that arise. Construction supervision responsibilities include subcontractor approvals, submittals, change orders & overruns, and payments, which occur simultaneously on a project. Construction staff who oversee our projects submit weekly progress reports with percent completion information, which is shown on the capital tracker and varies from project to project, depending on the work. A site is opened to the public after the Parks Department holds a substantial completion inspection with the contractor.
The average time to complete construction is 12-18 months. The total funding amount displayed on the capital tracker during construction is the funding registered with the Comptroller’s Office.
Types of Capital Contracts
There are three types of capital contracts: stand-alone contracts, multi-site contracts and dollar contracts. All three types of contracts can be found on the capital tracker.
The majority of our contracts are stand-alone contracts, which is when work takes place at one specific site. A stand-alone contract normally takes three and a half to four years to complete from day of the scope meeting through construction completion.
Multi-site contracts bundle work from several sites in one borough or multiple boroughs into one contract. On the capital tracker, each of these contracts lists the individual sites within the contract and provides detailed information about the timeline and funding for each site. Typically, all sites within a multi-site contract have the same design and procurement timelines and different construction start and end dates. Sites within a multi-site contract normally take three and a half to four years to complete from the scope meeting through construction completion.
Dollar contracts function differently than stand-alone and multi-site contracts. Work at a specific site (called a “work order”) is registered through a parent contract, known as a “dollar contract.” Typically, work orders in a dollar contract are for replacement-in-kind work. These contracts can move slightly faster through the capital process because the design and procurement phases take place at the same time. On the capital tracker, dollar contracts list the individual work orders and provide detailed information about the timeline and funding for each site. In general, work orders take one and a half to two years to complete from scope meeting through construction completion.
About the Capital Projects Tracker
The Capital Projects Tracker is an online, searchable tool that allows anyone interested in Parks’ capital projects to learn more about our projects in design, procurement, and construction.
Capital projects are organized into four main categories: active projects, proposed projects, partner projects, and completed projects.
At any given time, we have between 500 and 600 active projects. The Active Projects section lists all of the active projects in each borough, and shows what phase of the process each project is in, whether it’s design, procurement, or construction. There is also a link for each capital project to see additional information on the description of work, funding, and timeline.
Before a project can begin, it must be fully funded and have an in-house designer or design consultant assigned to it. Projects that don’t have full funding or a designer or design consultant on board are listed in our Proposed Projects tab. If a project is included on this list, NYC Parks is not actively working on this project.
Not all projects on parkland are managed by the Parks Department. Sister agencies, such as the New York City Economic Development Corporation or the New York City Department of Design and Construction, handle one or sometimes all of the phases of our projects. We’ve included a list of the active projects managed by our partner agencies and provide a link to those agencies websites to provide additional information.
After a project is completed in construction, it moves from the active tab to the completed tab on the tracker.
In addition to the information in the tracker, here is further information on the capital process: