[Hpn] urbanoutdoors: Urban Outdoors

urbanoutdoors nosc@treebranch.com
Thu, 15 Nov 2001 11:46:56 -0500


---------------------
urbanoutdoors
---------------------
From: dave.lutz@treebranch.com

U r b a n   O u t d o o r s          
No. 76 – November 15, 2001 
Gardens, Greenways and 1% for Parks –Visit www.treebranch.com

TEN QUICK, EASY AND INEXPENSIVE IDEAS FOR IMPROVING LIFE IN THE URBAN 
OUTDOORS
Perhaps the elections have come at just the right time, providing a 
clean slate to a new Mayor who has professed a desire to “listen” and 
then act. We wish Mayor Bloomberg well, in the hope that he proves 
himself a gentler, kinder and greener mayor. To help him succeed in 
the “first hundred days”, we offer the following easily achieved 
goals for quality of life improvement in NYC.    

1.	End the war on gardens. For almost six years the enormous civic 
energy of our community gardeners has been wasted in a defensive war 
against a mayor who wanted to cash in the City's real estate chips. 
Let the gardens bloom. Let there be more gardens. Ask the gardeners 
to help green the whole city.
2.	Plant more trees; a million of them, as a living citywide 
memorial. Plant the parks, the subway yards, schoolyards, highway 
edges, existing sidewalks, front yards, green streets and sidewalk 
expansion projects. Federal transportation money is available to 
cover some costs; lets make it a priority. Trees clean the air, quiet 
the city, cool it in summer and calm frazzled nerves. They are cheap 
at any price, and provide a great way to announce a break with the 
past and a new emphasis on quality of life. 
3.	Make buses move more quickly NOW. Exclusive bus lanes can move 
people almost as fast as rail without the cost of tunneling. Create 
new bus routes that take New Yorkers more directly from embarkation 
to destination. Restore the bus-only lane on the Gowanus Expressway 
immediately. In spite of almost universal praise, DOT saw fit to 
cancel it only weeks after it was instituted as an emergency measure, 
doubling some commutes.
4.	Encourage SAFE cycling. Cycling reduces congestion on both our 
roadways and crowded subways and is far safer to pedestrians than 
auto transport.   The few reckless cyclists that terrorize our 
streets can be calmed down with enforcement, preferably from police 
on bikes. That should be done fairly, with a general crackdown on 
traffic infractions, including turning motorists who refuse to yield 
right-of-way and who discharge passengers into traffic without 
checking for the presence of cyclists. 
5.	Bring more local cargo to water. When the corpse of the World 
Trade Center (WTC) had to be moved quickly, closed sanitation barge 
stations were reopened and additional cargo was moved to water near 
the site of the sabotage. Let's get the long haul garbage carriers 
off our streets and begin to move airport cargo into Manhattan by 
boat. Hudson River Pier 40 can be quickly adapted for that purpose.  
6.	Look for ways to remove expensive infrastructure on our derelict 
waterfront and develop a more naturalistic approach to recreational 
redevelopment. Seawalls are expensive to build and maintain. We must 
find a more natural way to develop shorelines, even if it requires 
“boardwalks” for trails and a small amount of additional rip rap 
(stone edge) to trap soil and give shelter to fauna and flora.  
7.	Acquire additional parkland where citizens are willing to steward 
interim parks. Interim parks can be basic in appearance, but should 
be open and encourage visitation. The Parks Department has proven 
expert in building playgrounds efficiently and has encouraged 
community groups to partner their parks. Those successful programs 
should be expanded.
8.	Quiet the noise. You can hear the horns honking in George 
Gershwin's American in Paris, but in the City of Light the traffic 
moves almost silently now. A steep fine hike and consistent 
enforcement of anti-horn laws did the trick. Noise is a serious heath 
risk.
9.	Institute an auto-traffic reduction program. This could be 
politically tough but at no time have New Yorkers been more receptive 
to ideas to make the city safer than now. By taking a block by block 
approach, with the advise of community groups, streets can be 
modified and greened in all five boroughs.
10.	Invite the military to build walking and mountain biking trails 
throughout the city, as they do elsewhere. They are civil defense 
pedestrian infrastructure. Note that escape on September 11th was on 
foot. Concentrate first on important broken connections in the 
greenways system, like the Staten Island North Shore trail, Brooklyn 
Waterfront Greenway and the Putnam rail entrance to Van Cortland Park.

WILL PARKS BE BURIED IN THE 9-11 ASHES?
Around the city, park advocates are concerned that new economic 
realities will cancel park projects that are in the planning process. 
Phone calls to public officials indicate a tacit acceptance of the 
fact that designs may take a bit longer to implement in bad times, 
but also an agreement that the value of parks have been clearly 
demonstrated by recent events. 

In Brooklyn, the park at the Williamsburg Terminal site is not likely 
to be affected, as the major source of funding is New York 
University, and education continues to be a growth business here. 
Construction continues within Brooklyn Bridge Park on the “dry land” 
north end. The Port Authority still interested in disposing of the 
Piers near Brooklyn Bridge, but NYS funding commitments may be 
delayed. In Sunset Park, park development is connected to a major 
green-port container port initiative, it is believed that one will 
not go ahead without the other.

The Bronx River project continues to generate enthusiasm and energy. 
Federal transportation money has ensured that planning will be 
continued on greenway routes to and through the river corridor. 
Neighborhood Open Space Coalition, working with Bronx Council for 
Environmental Quality, RG Roesch, Architecture, and Architect Elke 
Lehman, has drafted an innovative concept plan for an on-street route 
to connect the river to Randall's Island by reconfiguring city 
streets, and planning is beginning on an alternative route in the 
Hunts Point Community. These plans were recently displayed at a local 
meeting of the East Coast Greenway Alliance. Together, these two 
routes can create a local tourism loop for people from throughout the 
city.

UNBURYING A PARK NEAR THE WTC
The WTC ashes were cleaned in two weeks from Battery Park City Park 
(BPCP) and the grounds look as beautiful as ever, thanks to a quick 
mobilization by the BPCP Conservancy, which involved its entire 
staff. 5000 bags of concrete dust, debris and trash were removed, and 
park events went on as scheduled. Coincidentally, the Bread and 
Puppet Theater brought its unique blend of performance, activism, and 
ritual to the park for an early October run. Its message of personal 
empowerment was good medicine at a time and place that it was most 
needed.    

CITY PLANNING FOR A BRIGHTER FUTURE
The New York Times was first to jump into the fray on the value of 
planning before building. An article entitled “Aftermath” on Sunday, 
Sept 23, referred to natural disasters and wars in other cities and 
the processes of recovery. It was quickly followed up with various 
ideas, including building homes for all our financial exchanges, 
using the piece of still standing WTC curtain wall that has been so 
widely photographed as a permanent monument, and the grass roots 
desire for a large park on now spiritual ground. 

That desire was underlined in a letter to Urban Outdoors by Ann 
Arlen: “..at night there remains a large fragment of the towers, lit 
up almost white, resembling the shell of an ancient cathedral in the 
dark. Upon coming upon the sight people gasp and sometimes cry, as 
one man did the other night, saying, "that is sacred ground." 

Gene Russianoff of NY Public Interest Research Group also responded 
to our October Urban Outdoors issue: “I wanted to second your point 
about the role of parks in sustaining New Yorkers. I spent a good 
part of the day after the attack with my daughters in Prospect Park.  
There was a semi-spontaneous gathering of her friends (and of course 
parents!) and we had a lovely and anarchic game of baseball.  Keep up 
the great work.  It is a real challenge for advocates to keep balance 
now.”  

HEALING THE WOUNDS
In a memorial planting ceremony organized by City as School, students 
assisted families of firefighters from the local fire company or 
policemen from the local precinct who lost their lives at the World 
Trade Center to plant bulbs and pansies in tree pits across from the 
school. Each tree had a small American flag and plaque with the 
officer's name on it. Students were the emcees, one read a poem he 
wrote, another an essay and two boys sang "Imagine" a capella. Four 
students videotaped the whole ceremony. 

The president of the Board of Education, the Manhattan Borough 
President, the local assemblywoman and city council woman and others 
spoke as well. But the young people were creating a living memorial 
and doing something positive to deal with their feelings and the 
grief of the families who lost loved ones in a vivid example of the 
value of school gardening projects and how these projects bring out 
the creativity and sense of community in young people. 
(ProjectGrowNYC@netscape.net),  (submitted by Lenny Librezzi of 
Council on the Environment) 

NYC OLYMPICS EFFORT GAINS STEAM 
The United States Olympic Committee has eliminated four bidders for 
the 2012 Olympics.  New York is now considered the favorite.  The 
other surviving US bids are San Francisco, Washington-Baltimore and 
Houston. Parks advocates in Staten Island and Queens have expressed 
concerns that Olympic development might alter natural areas in parks 
and permanently commercialize the spaces. Pat Dolan, of the Queens 
Civic Congress warns that time is short.  “NYC2012 proposes to start 
work on Flushing Meadows by 2006.  From the looks of the bid, they 
may challenge Willow Lake's status as a NYS wetland. They contend the 
lake and surroundings are degraded” (To reach Pat: 
qvhca@pop.nuvisions.net)
 
AUTOS ARE UNHEALTHY, RESEARCHERS CONCLUDE
During the recent campaign, Mayor-elect Mike Bloomberg released an 
important position-paper on transportation and has been quoted as 
supporting improved Bus transport. The Center for Disease Control and 
Prevention has released a report outlining effects of urban sprawl on 
public health that may give him additional ammunition to make 
important changes. Conclusions include:  
-	While Americans make 6 percent of their trips on foot, 13 percent 
of all traffic fatalities involve pedestrian victims. Of the 10,696 
pedestrians killed by automobiles in 1997-98, 1,500 were children.
-	As people have adopted more sedentary, automobile-based lifestyles, 
the percentage of adults who are overweight or obese has risen from 
47 percent in 1976 to 61 percent in 1999.
Changes in behavior can make a difference. A case in point was during 
the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when a restrictive traffic plan prompted 
motorists to find other forms of transportation. At the time, 
emergency room visits for asthma sufferers who are especially 
susceptible to smog dropped by almost 42 percent.

In the Atlanta Constitution, Chris Kochtitzky, an urban planner who 
co-authored the report was quoted. "There was a time when the whole 
idea behind planning and zoning was to protect people from harmful 
areas and industries that were health hazards, but somehow that 
connection was lost." The report calls for "smart growth" policies 
that take mental and physical health into account, designing 
communities to increase "walkability" and changing building codes to 
accommodate people of different ages and the physically disabled.

NOSC OPEN HOUSE
Neighborhood Open Space Coalition's 3rd Annual Open House will take 
place on Thursday, December 6, 2001, between 4–7 pm. Our address is 
356 Seventh Ave. (30th Street). We invite Urban Outdoors readers to 
join us for some light refreshment and to learn more about our work.  

TAKE A WALK, NEW YORK: FALL ADVENTURES 
(www.walkny.org or 212-379-8339)
Outings in NYC public spaces, promoting walking as a healthful 
physical activity.
 
Saturday, November 17. 10 AM. Greenpoint Waterfront, Newtown Creek 
and Hunter's Point. Brooklyn & Queens.  Visit Greenpoint's commercial 
center and the Manufacturing and Design Center, cross Newtown Creek 
on the famed Pulaski Bridge, Hunter's Point area of Long Island City 
and new residential and commercial development on the East River, 
Queens West. End at Gantry Plaza State Park (if the weather is good 
we can have lunch here). Meet upstairs from the Nassau St. station of 
the G train. To get the G, take the A/C to Hoyt Schermerhorn or the 
E/F to 23rd St./Ely Ave. or the L to Lorimer St. 

Saturday, December 1. 10 AM. River to River on Harlem Shopping 
Streets. Annette Williams of New York Restoration leads a walk on 
Harlem's shopping streets, 116th Street and 125th Street. We will 
meet at Broadway and 116th St. and walk toward the East River, then 
north and back across 125th St. towards the Hudson. Take the #1 train 
to 116th Street (you will be at Broadway in front of Columbia 
University). 

Sunday December 16. 10 AM. Main Street Flushing to Fort Totten. 
Queens. The energetic Paul Graziano, local historian and urban 
planning consultant, will lead. Hard to believe the variety of Queens 
neighborhoods that we will go through on this approximately 5 mile 
walk to Fort Totten. Take the #7 train to the last stop, Main St., 
Flushing. 
Bring lunch.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
--------
Your $35 check to Neighborhood Open Space Coalition helps protect 
NYC's quality of life and keeps Urban Outdoors coming.

Become a year 2002 Member Now!

Name..................................................................
.....

Address...............................................................
......

City..................................State.............Zip...........
......

e-mail....................................................

Phone (..........)..................           
Fax(..........).....................

Organization....................................................... 
Neighborhood Open Space Coalition / Friends of Gateway
356 Seventh Avenue ¥ New York NY 10001 ¥ 212.352.9330
Fax: 212-352-9338	e-mail: dave.lutz@treebranch.com

URBAN OUTDOORS is the monthly newsletter of Neighborhood Open Space 
Coalition and Friends of Gateway. It reports on citywide public space 
issues and the work of hundreds of local civic groups that take an 
interest in the spaces. To add someone to URBAN OUTDOORS list: visit 
the subscription area of www.treebranch.com. To be removed from the 
list reply with: “unsubscribe urban outdoors”. If you receive this 
newsletter by fax: write “unsubscribe” on the COVER sheet and fax it 
back to 212-352-9338.  

--- urbanoutdoors
URBAN OUTDOORS is the monthly newsletter of Neighborhood Open Space 
Coalition and Friends of Gateway. It reports on citywide public space 
issues and the work of hundreds of local civic groups that take an 
interest in the spaces. To add someone to URBAN OUTDOORS list: visit 
the subscription area of www.treebranch.com. To be removed from the 
list reply to nosc@treebranch.com with:  unsubscribe urban outdoors"