Notable News

February 1, 2015, Department, by Samantha Bartram

The timely completion of Freshkills Park in Staten Island, New York, is uncertain, as officials question whether adequate funding will be available through Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office. The destination park — comprised of almost 6 percent of Staten Island's landscape and the largest New York City park to be built in more than a century — would reclaim 2,200 acres of land where the city dumped some 150 million tons of garbage. Staten Island officials are hoping to capture de Blasio’s attention, and purse strings, to ensure the project continues uninterrupted, with a goal for completion in 2036. At least $950 million has already been spent on site development and years-long efforts to cap four large mounds of trash under the fields, trails and playgrounds that will make up the park. However, much of the project is still in the planning stages and city officials aren’t yet sure of the total cost. Current plans call for four parks within Freshkills — North, South, East and West for each of the landfill mounds — and a Confluence, intended to be the cultural and waterfront recreation core of the site. Planners intend to construct the site from the outside in, so locals can enjoy portions of the park as soon as possible. Some areas of the park are already in regular use and more than 10,000 people have also taken advantage of events and annual sneak peeks. In an interview with SILive.com, New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said it's “very difficult to say” if the whole project will be built on time, “because, as you know, funding is going to be key.” According to reports from SILive.com’s Anna Sanders, the city budgeted $4.8 million to the park in 2014, plus $3.6 million in noncity money, and committed $31.3 million more through 2017. Talks are ongoing as to what amenities to include or leave behind at Freshkills, and whether to seek out additional funding from private-sector partners.

 

As part of its continued revision and updates to the collection of U.S. Topo topographic maps, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) is outlining mountain biking trails in addition to other land features. The 2014 edition of U.S. Topo maps covering Arizona were the first to feature the trail data — several other states, including some portions of Alaska and the Pacific Territories, will follow throughout 2015. The mountain bike trail data is provided through a partnership with the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) and the MTB Project, which allows local IMBA chapters, IMBA members and the public to provide trail data and descriptions through their website. MTB Project and IMBA then verify the quality of the trail data provided, ensure accuracy and confirm that the trail is legal. This online crowdsourced project also allows availability of the mountain bike trail data though mobile and web apps. U.S. Topo maps can be downloaded here. Click here to take part in IMBA’s crowdsourcing project and contribute your own data, enter trail descriptions, ratings and other information.

 

Some residents of Atlanta, Georgia, are up in arms about a city proposal to place advertising on some public assets, including in park space. City officials say they could raise up to $5 million annually through these ads to help pay for a forthcoming $250 million infrastructure bond package. A public hearing was held in December 2014 for individuals and business owners to air their grievances and ask questions about the proposal. According to reports, friends groups like Park Pride showed up to voice their distaste for advertising cluttering area parks, saying it could negatively impact aesthetics, undermine philanthropic gifts from corporate donors or cause potential benefactors to reconsider making contributions. By contrast, representatives of the Atlanta mayor’s office say advertising partnerships could help boost smaller parks and recreation centers by providing them with more resources, and that any advertising would happen in a way that complies with current park signage policies. As of press time, a final determination on the proposal had not been reached.

 

The city of St. George, Utah, recently unveiled a new addition to its Tonaquint Park, titled “All Abilities Park.” The facility is intended to provide persons with disabilities, their families, friends and peers with a place to play, socialize and learn together. “We want to create a magical place where play happens without barriers or bias,” St. George Leisure Services Director Kent Perkins said in an interview with KCSG Television. “A place where acceptance and awareness are fostered and the focus is on abilities, not disabilities.”

 

Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC) Division of Parks and Recreation is continuing the second year of an innovative program that enables local businesses to advertise on state beaches while supporting beach patrol lifeguards. Beginning in January, businesses were permitted to buy advertising space on lifeguard stands at Cape Henlopen’s Main Beach Bathhouse, Towers Road Beach, Delaware Seashore State Park beaches and Fenwick Island’s State Line Beach. Each stand can accommodate signs on the north and south sides and a premium location on the back. “Delaware State Parks are primarily self-funded, collecting roughly 65 percent of their operating expenses from fees and other funding opportunities like the lifeguard stand advertising program,” Delaware State Parks Director Ray Bivens said in an interview with Hockessin Community News, adding that the program was very successful in 2014.

Samantha Bartram is the Associate Editor of Parks & Recreation magazine.