Wednesday, June 22, 2005

How New York's neighborhood parks are faring

New Yorkers for Parks released their annual report card [PDF] on neighborhood parks this week. The nonprofit coalition ranks each park's specific amenities on maintenance, cleanliness, safety and structural integrity. The good news is, a lot of them are improving -- moving up toward an A grade. The bad news is, there are still too many in poor shape, with some getting dismal well-below-failing scores.

The bigger parks like Central Park and Fort Tryon Park, for instance, are not included in this survey, because I guess they're more than just neighborhood parks. And yet consider the ones at the top of the NY4P list: Bryant Park (with its wi-fi and free events) and Madison Square Park (with its Shake Shack), which both received perfect scores. I always think of them as drawing people from all over the city, even though they are technically in some people's neighborhoods.

Which parks need the most help? University Woods in the Bronx (a steep, forested slope overlooking the Harlem River) and Sperandeo Brothers Playground in Brooklyn, both of which received less than 10 points out of 100. Several parks also took huge leaps in grade: Captain Tilly Park and Hallets Cove Playground in Queens got B grades this year, up from Fs last year, but Irving Square Park in Brooklyn went the other way, from A to F, mostly because it started collecting a lot of trash, the water fountain didn't work well anymore, and the playground started showing heavy wear.

Bennett Park [PDF] in my neighborhood fared pretty well, moving up from a C+ to a B this year, with high marks for the playground, the immediate environment, drinking fountains and bathrooms. But the sitting areas need help as well as the pathways. And from a recent visit, I'd also say that the grass area around the flagpole could use some reseeding or something.

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