What Is an Urban Park, Anyway?

April 22, 2013

Some of the most pressing questions regarding urban parks address how our urban environments can incorporate nature and how these parks can promote community. NYLCVEF’s symposium “What is an Urban Park, Anyway?” cohosted with the Yonkers Committee for Smart Development and Groundwork Hudson Valley looked to address these questions and more . This public symposium featured six speakers–Meg Walker, Vice President, Project for Public Spaces; Rick Madger, Executive Director, Groundwork Hudson Valley; Yvette Hartsfield, Yonkers Parks Commissioner; Rose Harvey, the New York State Parks Commissioner; Christopher Rizzo, Board member of Friends of Van Cortlandt Park and New Yorkers for Park; and Dart Westphal, board member of Friends of Van Cortlandt Park; who sat for a Q&A panel session in the second half of the event. NYLCVEF President Marcia Bystryn moderated the panel.

In their presentations, the speakers addressed several topics including:

  • Questions of balancing active and passive parkland spaces
  • Means of coexistence with wildlife
  • The role of the community in neighborhood parks
  • Ensuring that parks are accessible to all
  • Creative methods of funding city parks, including the role of private/public partnerships and non-profit managers such as conservancies  

Rose Harvey and others highlighted the new Saw Mill River Daylighting Park, and many spoke to the success of The High Line as a model for future park creation.

The audience of over 50 community members asked thoughtful questions that addressed local issues such as – How do we enjoy the waterfront if it’s covered in old industry? How do we prevent property prices around parks from skyrocketing? How often does the Parks Department mow?

So what IS an urban park, anyway? The symposium started with an image of Central Park, often thought of as the “ideal” urban park, but as the audience learned about parks throughout Westchester, New York City, and even Detroit, it was emphasized that parks are open spaces for community gathering-they can be “natural” as many of the parks in Westchester are, or be created around abandoned rail lines and covered up rivers, infrastructure like the Old Croton Aqueduct. Perhaps the most important key to Urban Parks is community involvement, which Yonkers residents showed through their attendance and engaging questions.

Thanks again to our co-hosts, Groundwork Hudson Valley and the Yonkers Committee for Smart Development, as well as to our panelists, for making a great event.

< Back to Policy Forums

Related Articles

On Wednesday, May 18th, NYLCVEF and our partner, Sustainable Westchester held a virtual Lunch and Learn focused on the Scoping Plan for New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). The CLCPA is among the most ambitious climate laws in the world and requires New York to transition to a zero-emission electricity sector by…

On October 20th, 2021, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF) held a candidate forum with the candidates for Huntington Town Supervisor about their stance on a range of environmental and sustainability issues, hosted by the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. Featuring Ed Smyth, Rebecca Sanin, and Eugene Cook.

On October 5th, 2021, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF) held a candidate forum for New York Council District 32, which is a coastal district and climate frontline community. It centers around Jamaica Bay, Ozone Park, and the western half of the Rockaways and is currently occupied by Council Member Eric Ulrich. This forum was held on zoom in preparation for the November 2nd general election. The forum featured Democratic nominee Felicia Singh and Republican nominee Joann Ariola, and was moderated by NYLCV NYC Chapter Board Member Karen Mintzer. 

On June 29th, 2021 NYLCVEF hosted a virtual public forum along with Suez, a New York water service company to discuss per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). NYLCVEF President Julie Tighe began by introducing the topic of water contamination, specifically regarding PFAS. To combat contamination in NY, the Drinking Water Advisory Council lowered advisory levels to…

Primary Election Day is tomorrow! This year, voters in NYC will have the opportunity to participate in ranked-choice voting. We recently held a webinar on the system, which will be used for the first time in a major citywide election this Primary Day. The event discussed how to fill in your ballot, how your responses are used to elect the winners, how candidates are using the systems while campaigning, and why the system was enacted.

We recently held a webinar on the opportunities and challenges of decarbonizing the manufacturing sector, which is the third-largest contributor to emissions nationally. This webinar was the fifth in our series on Implementing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

Together with Citizens Campaign for the Environment, we recently held an event focused on how offshore wind energy projects can be built without causing any adverse effects on the neighboring wildlife.

We recently held a webinar on how protecting nature can help with climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as the various techniques farms can employ to fight climate change. Event panelists provided responses to some unanswered audience questions from the event.

We recently hosted a webinar on extended producer responsibility (EPR). The forum focused on how extended producer responsibility legislation for packaging can help us achieve our waste reduction goals.

Get Involved