NYC Parks Make Rivals Green With Envy!

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NYC Parks Make Rivals Green With Envy!
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alt Urban planners, elected officials and environmentalists from around the world are coming to take note of what’s going on in New York City.

They’re coming to check out the parks, wetlands and waterfront, the featured attractions of an international urban parks conference slated for July 14-17.

The conference, “Greater and Greener,” will tout the city’s recent expansion and revitalization of parkland across the five boroughs, an undertaking that eclipses anything accomplished along these lines since the New Deal era.

“New York is really leading the pack for cities looking at long-term ways to create all kinds of green space,” said Catherine Nagel, executive director of City Parks Alliance, the conference organizer.

Leaders in park development will tour 40 sites over three days, getting a firsthand look at how the city has reclaimed and transformed vacant or uninhabitable space.

One of those is Fresh Kills Park on Staten Island, a 30-year project that will give New Yorkers a destination nearly three times the size of Central Park on what was once the world’s largest landfill.

The conference will fan out, showing how the public and private sectors have teamed up to transform previously abandoned eyesores into areas for recreation.

“I’m excited about the High Line,” said Gil Penalosa, a former parks commissioner of Bogota, Colombia, who now runs the 8-80 Cities nonprofit in Toronto and plans to attend next week’s conference. “Instead of taking down the rails, the community got together to make a beautiful park.”

Another example is Brooklyn Bridge Park, which has afforded space for people to kayak and practice Pilates on what was once another of the city’s many abandoned waterfront areas.

The conference will include more than 100 sessions and review topics such as:

* Rethinking play. Playgrounds have been built for children and adults that cater to the mind as well as the body, such as Hester St. Playground in Manhattan’s Chinatown.

* Restoring sanctuaries. They include Oakland Lake and Ravine in northeast Queens, where a 13-acre wetland has been restored as part of a combined sewer overflow project with the city Enviornmental Protection Department.

* Balancing the ecosystem. More than 65% of the 546,000 trees planted by the city since 2007 have been located in parks scattered across the city. One section of Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx has seen the large-scale planting of 5,500 trees and 1,500 shrubs on what was formerly an ash dump.

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