AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS: Salazar, Bloomberg Launch Great Urban Park Vision for New York City

NPS to Expand Outdoor Opportunities, Youth Outreach under President Obama's New Initiative

Last edited 09/29/2021

CENTRAL PARK, NEW YORK CITY — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Director of the National Park Service Jon Jarvis joined New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to announce that, as part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative, the National Park Service will ramp up its collaborative efforts with the City of New York and local partners to expand outdoor opportunities, strengthen outreach programs to school children, improve connections among the national parks in New York harbor, and restore New York's remarkable natural, cultural, and historic resources.

The National Park Service's Great Urban Park initiative for New York City is one of the major open space and urban park initiatives that the National Park Service will launch in cities around the country under President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative.

“Over the last two years, we have reopened the crown of the Statue of Liberty, jump-started the landmark restoration of Ellis Island, and begun to bring the refuges and wetlands of the Harbor back to health,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “With President Obama's Great Outdoors Initiative, now is the time to build on the progress we've made and pursue a bold vision for the outdoor spaces and national parks in New York City, so that the city's green spaces, waterways, and cultural landmarks are healthy, connected, and accessible to every child in school, every resident, and every visitor from around the globe.”

“Here in New York, we feel such a strong sense of pride for our parks, I want to thank Secretary Salazar and the rest of the Obama administration for their ongoing support of the city's parks and other national jewels within the five boroughs,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “As part of the America's Great Outdoors Initiative, we look forward to working with the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service to enhance the largely undiscovered beauty of the Gateway National Recreation Area.”

"New York City provides the perfect opportunity for the National Park Service to demonstrate the principles of American Great Outdoors," said Director Jarvis. "The National Parks of New York Harbor will be a key partner with the city to reconnect New Yorkers and all Americans with the outdoors, to pursue active and healthy lifestyles and learn some history at the same time."

Secretary Salazar today issued a Secretarial Memo directing Department of the Interior agencies to develop action plans to implement the America's Great Outdoors Initiative. As part of this effort, Secretary Salazar has asked Director Jarvis and the superintendents of the national parks in New York City – working in collaboration with the City of New York and local partners -- to develop by mid-March an action plan for the National Park Service's Great Urban Park initiative for New York City.

Secretary Salazar and Jon Jarvis today outlined some of the initial steps the National Park Service will take under the Great Urban Park initiative for New York City. They include:

• Together with local and state partners, establish a greenway system connecting the communities around Jamaica Bay. In collaboration with a public/private partnership, the Park Service will develop a park in and around Jamaica Bay that would include the largest urban campground in America, connections from public transportation to greenways and bikeways, kayaking trails in the Bay, an environmental education center for schools and community groups that will grow stewards for the Bay, and restored landscape elements that reflect the aviation heritage of Floyd Bennett Field.

• The National Park Service will undertake urban design plans for Floyd Bennett Field on Jamaica Bay that is surrounded by the most dense and diverse population in any national park area. NPS will also work to revitalize the community gardens at Floyd Bennett Field as a tool to increase urban residents' access to fresh vegetables, and to the outdoor gardening experience.

• The National Park Service will explore whether and how to relocate the security screening checkpoints at Battery Park so as to maintain tight security at Ellis Island and other Harbor parks, while also improving the open spaces and views at Battery Park.

• The Park Service will establish a goal of having every school child in New York connect with the national parks in New York harbor during his or her school career.

• Working with medical and education professionals, the Park Service will coordinate the development of new podcast and Junior Ranger programs that promote physical activities in the outdoors that the whole family can enjoy within New York City and Northern New Jersey.

The Department of the Interior has undertaken major renovations and improvements at its New York Harbor parks in the past two years. This includes more than $38 million in investment under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, including repairs to the Ellis Island Seawall, stabilization of the historic baggage and dormitory building, and installation of power and communication infrastructure for Liberty Island.

In Manhattan, the Park Service has undertaken renovations of General Grant's Tomb and Hamilton Grange. Meanwhile, at Governors Island, the service completed abatement of hazardous materials and stabilization of Castle Williams. At Gateway National Recreation Area, the agency has implemented improvements to trails, beach centers and HVAC systems throughout the park.

President Obama unveiled the America's Great Outdoors initiative last year to create a new conservation ethic for the 21st century and to reconnect Americans to the natural world. Earlier this week, the President received a report that included recommendations to create a new generation of great urban parks and community green spaces.

To read the America's Great Outdoors report, click here.


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