Our Parkland and Waterfront
In a City that may sometimes feel like a concrete jungle, parks serve a number of vital functions. They serve as our backyards, contributing to our physical health by providing space for organized and recreational sports and supporting our emotional health by providing a peaceful area for relaxation away from the buzz of the city. But they also serve as important community gathering spaces, bringing together diverse residents in a single space. While the neighborhoods in my Assembly district have among the least park space of the entire city, it is a constant struggle to preserve this parkland and create new space. One of the community’s biggest victories was the creation of Hudson River Park. I remember visiting the old west side piers as a young adult. Despite the piers’ crumbling and dilapidated condition, people flocked to the waterfront and, on any given weekend, the piers would teem with people. The creation of Hudson River Park gave new life to the waterfront, and, today, it is even more popular with residents and visitors. However, as the Park has grown in size so has the pressure to privatize sections of it. As is the case with parks throughout the City, instead of viewing the creation and maintenance of parks as fundamental government responsibility parks are seen as potential revenue generators. Whether it is closing off a substantial portion of Union Square Park for a year-round private restaurant, reconfiguring Washington Square Park to meet the needs of NYU, or trying to build residential housing at Pier 40 in Hudson River Park, this trend is highly problematic and something that I have actively opposed. The Lower Manhattan community has a rich history of standing firm and fighting to protect its scarce green space. I will continue to be a leader in the fight to protect public park space so that it is free, well-maintained and able to be enjoyed by all.