AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS: Salazar, Bloomberg Join Forces to Cooperatively Manage 10,000 Acres of City, Federal Parks in New York City

Goals Include Improved Access, Seamless Park Experience for Visitors

Last edited 09/05/2019

NEW YORK CITY – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today signed an unprecedented agreement between the National Park Service (NPS) and the City of New York Department of Parks of Recreation – spelling out ways the two agencies will cooperatively manage 10,000 acres of federal and city-owned parks in and around Jamaica Bay to promote visitation, education programs, scientific research and opportunities for outdoor recreation.

By allowing the National Park Service and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to work on each other's property, comingle resources and undertake joint planning, this innovative new partnership will serve to better connect urban communities to the natural beauty and history of Gateway National Recreation Area and adjacent city park lands.

The agreement comes as part of the Obama administration's bold vision to build and expand America's great urban parks so that they remain healthy, connected, and accessible to every American through President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative, launched in 2010. Salazar and Bloomberg made the announcement at City Hall and were joined by National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, New York City Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe and Director of the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability David Bragdon.

“There is no better place than New York City to fulfill the vision of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to establish a network of world-class urban parks across the country in partnership with state and local governments, local communities and city residents,” Salazar said. “The United States and New York City have joined forces to establish a single seamless park that is readily accessible to New Yorkers, and welcoming as a place to bring families, enjoy nature, get some exercise or learn about history.”

“This historic partnership will improve our city's great natural treasure – Jamaica Bay – by creating restored, resilient natural landscapes, more outdoor recreation, new and cutting-edge research collaborations, and an improved, sustainable transportation framework,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “This is an important example of the great things that can happen when different levels of government work together and are supported by philanthropic organizations. This agreement fulfills important goals included our plans to make our city more sustainable and to enhance our waterfront.”

“The National Park Service is proud to partner with Mayor Bloomberg and the people of New York to make your neighborhood city and national parks more welcoming, more accessible, and more relevant for the citizens of this great City and visitors from around the world,” said Director Jarvis. “This partnership we are forging between Gateway and the City is huge step forward in upping our game in urban areas. We invite New Yorkers to get involved in the process and let us know what you want your parks to be.”

The Cooperative Management Agreement, which builds on a commitment made between the Mayor and the Secretary in October 2011 to work together to establish the Jamaica Bay area as a great urban park, outlines immediate actions as well as proposals for longer-term actions to support a new vision of shared stewardship that will revitalize these park lands and waters.

The goals of the agreement include:

  • Creating a seamless and interconnected network of recreation spaces, including integrated land and water trail systems and community activity areas;

  • Coordinating habitat restoration, research and resource management in the Bay;

  • Ensuring public transportation and access to and within Jamaica Bay strongly supports existing and new experiential activities, including public transit, pedestrian, bicycle, and ferry access;

  • Providing unified signage, maps and marketing wherever possible;

  • Integrating business practices for maintenance and management;

  • Developing new revenue generation sources and philanthropic support to enable the redevelopment and support the ongoing operations of the parks without regard to underlying ownership; and

  • Jointly developing a series of programs in which urban youth can learn the values of stewardship through service activities.

The agreement also calls for the establishment of a new non-profit “Friends” group that will work with the National Park Service and New York City to raise money for the planning and development of their combined Jamaica Bay-area parklands and waters. The organization will likely be modeled on NPS' most successful “Friends” group at Golden Gate National Recreation Area and would include a board that would be recommended jointly by the Mayor and Secretary.

In acknowledgment of a shared commitment by the Department and the City to improving the health of Jamaica Bay, the partnership is also seeking a university or other academic partner or science-focused organization to manage an intensive research program focused on the restoration of the bay, including potentially creating a new science center to coordinate and bolster research efforts. The Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability today released a Request for Expressions of Interest. Responses are due Nov. 2, 2012.

The Rockefeller Foundation announced that they are committing $1.5 million to establish a state of the art, first of its kind resilience center that that will integrate biology and ecology with sociology, psychology, education and economics. The center could be replicated in other cities, as part of the work they are doing around the world to strengthen and prepare today's communities for the future. The Rockefeller Foundation is a leader in the effort to enhance the resilience of communities across the globe, committing over $100 million to the proposition that the benefits of globalization will be greatly enhanced by building capacity to prepare for, withstand and emerge stronger from acute shocks and chronic stresses. Additional support has also been committed by National Grid and others to support the next phase of planning and engineering for the efforts at Jamaica Bay.

In addition, the National Park Service today released for public comment a document that describes several alternatives for managing Gateway under the park's General Management Plan, which is currently being drafted. The newsletter, which includes specific ideas and suggestions for the Jamaica Bay that reflect the planned joint management approach outlined in the agreement announced today, is available here.

By increasing access to outdoor recreation for youth, this announcement supports Let's Move Outside – a component of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within generation. Let's Move Outside promotes active, healthy lifestyles by expanding and promoting opportunities for active recreation on public lands and waters to help children reconnect with the outdoors and develop healthy habits.


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