2030: A Plan for the City's Future and Your Health
Setting Your Kids On The Right Track
Help Along The Way
Alternative Routes To Health
Maintaining Speed As You Age
Queens Health Glossary
The City's Future And Your
BY JULIET WERNER
Climate Change Changes City Planning
The Aug. 8 storm left homes and businesses across the borough destroyed.
On the heels of a phone call from Congressman Joe Crowlely (D-Jackson
Heights), the President declared Queens a federal disaster area. And
Queensites, on their way to apply for assistance, wondered aloud if
the problem might largely be solved by cleaning the streets’
catch basins more regularly.
announces PlaNYC at Queens Museum of Art.
At community board meetings, attendees were united in claiming that
clogged catch basins were behind the severe flooding and that the
Department of Environmental Protection, the agency responsible for
maintaining them, was to blame.
Nearly two months after the storm, Department of Environmental Commissioner
Emily Lloyd presented her testimony before City Council.
“This morning I would like first to put our recent weather and
the resulting flooding in the context of climate change as we currently
understand it, and tell you how we are incorporating research on climate
change into our planning,” Lloyd said. “Events like Aug.
8 show us that we have to take action before climatic change predictions
are as certain or precise as we would prefer.”
Taking climate change into consideration is a trademark of Mayor Mike
Bloomberg’s administration. The Mayor first began hinting at
PlaNYC, a comprehensive sustainability plan for the City’s future,
at an event hosted by the League of Conservation right here in Queens
at the Museum of Art back in December of 2006.
Then, on Earth Day 2007, Bloomberg outlined the specifics.
“We need to increase open space, expand housing, deal with our
congested roadways, create better mass transit options, increase our
energy sources and stabilize our water supply or we simply won’t
be able to continue the high quality of life we now enjoy,”
Bloomberg said. “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.”
Councilman Eric Gioia introduces the
Brooklyn-Queens Greenway in 2006, which will link 13 city
parks with a series of hiking and biking trails. It stretches
from Flushing Meadows - Corona Park to Fort Totten and Clearview
Park in Bayside.
The initiatives included in PlaNYC address the City’s five key
dimensions: land, water, transportation, energy and air. 2030 is still
years away, but the state of health in Queens has already improved
as a result of the Mayor’s vision. Work is underway on Water
Tunnel 3, congestion pricing is being tweaked at the state and City
level and cleaner power plants are being constructed. But if there’s
one way PlaNYC has already affected the health of New Yorkers it is
through the various Open Space Initiatives.
Escaping The Crowd
By 2030, 9 million people will call New York City home and the Mayor
is determined to provide them all with space for recreation and relaxation.
Ensuring that all New Yorkers live within a ten-minute walk of a park
tops the list of initiatives included in PlaNYC.
In order to make existing sites available to more New Yorkers, the plan
is to open schoolyards as public playgrounds, increase options for competitive
athletics and complete underdeveloped parks. In addition, the City will
expand usable hours at existing sites by providing more multi-purpose
fields and installing new lighting. Finally, the public realm will be
reinvented by establishing more public plazas and greening the cityscape.
From Schoolyard to Public Playground
For many children living in Queens, school is the only time physical
activity is available. Physical Education requirements, mandated by
the State, are frequently ignored, placing an even greater burden on
the City to provide free and easily accessible facilities.
plant street trees.
in conjunction with the Trust for Public Land, the Mayor’s office
has committed $111 million toward opening 290 schoolyards in under-served
neighborhoods. These playgrounds will be open after school, on weekends
and even during school vacations. The mayor expects that by 2030, 360,000
New York children will be utilizing these playgrounds.
In July of last year, the first 69 of these playgrounds opened. In Queens,
schoolyards at PS 101, PS 228, PS 58, IS 73, PS 60, PS 254, PS 161 and
PS 223 were treated to makeovers. The remaining Queens schoolyards,
scattered evenly throughout the borough, are set to be ready by 2010.
Old Favorites Get a Makeover
At a breakfast held Oct. 18 at Forest Park’s Oak Ridge, Department
of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe outlined the Department’s
accomplishments and goals. He joined the first corps of Parks &
Recreation’s Urban Park Rangers and now, almost 30 years later,
he is delighted to be heading up the Department at a time of unprecedented
“Perhaps most significantly, [PlaNYC] provides $400 million to
restore eight major parks that have never realized their full potential,”
Benepe said before outlining plans intended for Queens’ Highland
Park and Rockaway Park, which will receive $46 million and $36 million
Highland Park is distinguished by the Ridgewood Reservoir, which was
used until 1959. Today, its three basins are overgrown. PlaNYC has determined
that two of the three basins will be set aside as a nature preserve
and the largest will be converted into a 60-acre recreation center.
Rockaway Park rehabilitation will consist mainly of creating beachfront
facilities to better serve the new residents expected to be attracted
to the area as a result of the Arverne-by-the-Sea project.
yard at PS 121 is slated to become a playground.
will engage in a planning effort with the surrounding commu¬nity
to develop green spaces, outdoor recre¬ational centers with opportunities
for all ages, and sports facilities—such as for soccer and cricket—that
reflect the shifting recreation interests of today’s New Yorkers,”
the Mayor’s plan reads in part.
Improving rundown parks will play an important role in ensuring that
Queens residents are getting the recreation necessary for a healthy
The Borough Is Only Getting Greener
Another component of the Mayor’s ambitious PlaNYC agenda is to
plant and care for one million new trees across the City’s five
boroughs during the next decade. In doing so, the City will increase
its tree cover by 20 percent and improve quality of life. The City is
set to plant 60 percent of trees and the remaining 40 percent will come
from private organizations, community organizations and homeowners.
The project launched in October of last year in the Bronx.
“PlaNYC is one of the most comprehensive initiatives to enhance
an urban environment ever undertaken by an American city, and Million
Trees NYC is an important part of it,” Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff
said at the October kickoff event. “New York City has some of
the greatest parks and most beautiful tree-lined streets in the world,
but we also have too many neighborhoods and streets without sufficient
coverage. Million Trees NYC will change that and will go a long way
to help us create a green, sustainable New York City.”
Adrian Benepe, City Parks Foundation Executive Director David
Rivel, Partnerships for Parks Director Jason Schwartz, New York
Restoration Project Executive Director Drew Becher, Assembly Member
Ellen Young and Council Member John C. Liu plant a sassafras tree
at Kissena Corridor Park—one of 3,000 planted at the park
for It’s My Park! Day.
April 12, the not-for-profit organization New York Cares is sponsoring
a tree planting day at various sites throughout the City. Queens locations
have not yet been announced, but will soon be posted on www.handsonnewyorkday.org.
In PlaNYC, the mayor also outlines his strategy for cleaning up the
City’s 7,600 acres of contaminated land. According to the Mayor’s
office, all five boroughs contain sites that may be contaminated as
a result of an old factory or gas station or even a dry cleaner that
used hazardous chemicals.
Here in Queens, the cleaning up process has already started. For example,
the Shops at Atlas Park was at one point a toy factory that released
chemicals, which significantly spoiled the surrounding soil and groundwater.
Portions of Jamaica have been designated as a brownfield cleanup area
and $420,000 has been directed to the effort.
A Stroll Can’t Hurt
It’s no secret that Queens residents are largely opposed to Congestion
Pricing, just one of many initiatives included in PlaNYC. Community
Boards across the borough have expressed their concerns and tension
is mounting. In times of stress, why not relax in a nearby park. There
may soon be one a 10-minute walk away.