In 2007, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg launched PlaNYC in an effort to make the city more sustainable, efficient, and livable, even as it prepared to become home to over a million more people by 2030.
"If we act now, we'll have a better future, a better quality of life, and more importantly, our children and their children will too," Mayor Bloomberg said when he announced the comprehensive plan.
In cities, parks and public spaces are places to play and exercise, meet and mingle. They also serve important ecological functions and can act as catalysts for economic development, raising property values, and breathing life into neighborhoods.
The need for open spaces was especially acute in New York City, which in 2007 had fewer acres of green space per person than almost any other American city, despite the fact that Mayor Bloomberg and his team had created more than 300 acres of new parkland in his first five years in office.
The Bloomberg Administration's idea responded to a real problem in new, creative ways that were both ambitious and achievable, without requiring massive public capital expenditures.
A package of innovative initiatives is being implemented to ensure all New Yorkers live within a ten-minute walk of a park.
Here are just a few examples of how the idea has been implemented:
Mayor Bloomberg's pledge was to transform park access by 2030, but progress already is clear. In the last year alone, the program brought more than 240,000 New Yorkers within a ten-minute walk of a park. Today, 75.6% of all New York City residents share in this benefit.
New open spaces — from plazas at once busy intersections to new playgrounds to reclaimed natural areas — are improving quality of life and the city's existing physical assets.
Access to open space is a priority for residents in cities from coast to coast.
Even in times of austerity, creative re-purposing of existing assets (e.g., schoolyards, streetscapes, underutilized land) is a strategy that many cities can pursue.