NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue and City University of New York (CUNY) Distinguished Professor of Public Health Terry Huang announced the initial findings from a large-scale study of the public health impacts of the Community Parks Initiative (CPI), an equity-driven investment program through which Parks enhances greenspaces in underserved neighborhoods. Parks also announced the next twenty sites that will receive CPI funding in 2024 and 2025, with sites in all five boroughs.
According to the Physical Activity and Redesigned Community Spaces (PARCS) study, renovations made through CPI made New Yorkers more likely to spend time in their local parks. New Yorkers living near a CPI-renovated park were 66 percent more likely to have visited their park than New Yorkers living near non-renovated parks. The CUNY study also found that all New Yorkers may benefit from having a CPI-renovated park in their neighborhood, not just regular park-users, thanks to quality-of-life improvements that uplift the entire neighborhood.
“Beautiful, accessible public parks aren’t a luxury — they’re a necessity for our city’s health and quality of life,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “Investing in green spaces in underserved communities is core to our public space agenda, which is why we’re building on the success of the Community Parks Initiative with twenty new sites across the five boroughs in the next two years. CUNY’s study demonstrates just how far public space investments can go toward creating a cleaner, greener, and more livable city for all New Yorkers.”
“This study demonstrates what we’ve always known: investing in our local parks helps all New Yorkers. Beautiful, well-maintained parks provide spaces for healthy recreation, community building, and connection with nature – so it’s no surprise that, according to these preliminary findings, New Yorkers living near high-quality parks can have a higher quality of life!” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “I’m so excited to bring these benefits to twenty more parks in all five boroughs over the next two years through our Community Parks Initiative, providing more New Yorkers in underserved neighborhoods with safe and beautiful places to play, take in the fresh air, and meet with neighbors.”
The study found that CPI investment increased park usage among adults, allowing more New Yorkers to reap the potential health benefits of time spent in greenspaces, such as exposure to fresh air, opportunities for healthy recreation, and improved mental health. New Yorkers living near a CPI-park were approximately 66 percent more likely to have visited the park in the past week than New Yorkers living near non-CPI parks, and were almost 40 percent more likely to have spent over 30 minutes there on weekends. The study also observed more consistent park usage at CPI-parks than at non-CPI parks over the course of a year, indicating that CPI investments kept New Yorkers coming back to their local parks.
The benefits of CPI may extend beyond park borders, according to the study. Preliminary findings from the research indicate that having a high-quality park correlates with improved quality of life for all neighbors, not just frequent park-users. The possible contribution of parks to local quality of life (a key health outcome that includes physical, social, and mental health) underscores the role that park investments can play in uplifting entire neighborhoods.
The study also found that activating parks with community programming and amenities correlates with increased park usage, engaging more New Yorkers in their local greenspaces. CUNY SPH is now further investigating the impact of park activation and programming on public health through a new study, the Supporting Parks and Revitalizing Communities Study (SPARCS), which began in Fall 2022.
Parks and community greenspaces have historically fulfilled a basic human need for connection—to self, family, and friends; to community and neighborhood; and to nature. Indeed, many study participants described connecting with nature as an important motivator for visiting their local parks.
Twenty New CPI Sites Announced
Parks is announcing 20 additional parks that are slated to receive investment through CPI in 2024 and 2025. The following parks will be transformed through CPI, with a total investment of over $100 million across all five boroughs:
Galileo Playground (2024)
Washington Park (2024)
Harding Park (2024)
Fort Independence Playground (2025)
Eae J. Mitchell Park (2025)
Youth Village Playground (2025)
Gonzalo Plascencia Playground (2024)
Carter G. Woodson Children’s Playground (2024)
St. Mark’s Playground (2024)
Hattie Carthan Playground (2025)
Livonia Park (2025)
Peter Minuit Playground (2024)
Holcombe Rucker Park (2024)
McKenna Square (2025)
Nathan Straus Playground (2025)
East River Playground (2025)
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Take a look inside “New York Green: Discovering the City’s Most Treasured Parks and Gardens” by Ngoc Minh Ngo