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New York City to Spend $150 million improving anchor parks in each borough

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Five parks - one per borough - will receive $30 million for major improvements.

Five parks – one per borough – will receive $30 million for major improvements.

NEW YORK — One large park per borough hit the jackpot Wednesday; Mayor de Blasio announced each of the five parks would receive $30 million for major improvements.

The parks, being called anchor parks, are within walking distance of the homes of a combined 750,000 city residents. Investments in the parks will go toward upgrades like new soccer fields and running tracks.

“New Yorkers deserve to have the greatest parks in the world steps from their homes. That’s why our administration is focused on park equity, which brings fair access to and development of parks across the city. The Anchor Parks program, joined with the Community Parks Initiative and Parks Without Borders, marks another major step in advancing park equity for all New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The five anchor parks are Saint Mary’s Park in the Bronx, Highbridge Park in Manhattan, Betsy Head Park in Brooklyn, Astoria Park in Queens and Freshkills Park on Staten Island.

Freshkills Park on Staten Island started out as the Fresh Kills landfill. The landfill was closed in 2001. Once completed, the park will be almost three times the size of Central Park.

“I am pleased that New York City is following through on its commitment to transform Fresh Kills Park from a literal dump to an amazing asset for the community,” said Assembly Member Matthew Titone.

Parks department officials consider the parks to be anchors for the communities they’re in because they provide a stabilizing force in neighborhoods and offer more diverse resources than smaller community parks, said Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver.

The parks were selected based on historical under-investment, high surrounding population and potential for development.  Parks officials will reach out to communities in the fall to determine which improvements best fit each park.

“This major investment in anchor parks is a vote of confidence in the power of parks to strengthen communities,”  said Tupper Thomas, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks. “NY4P has studied parks across New York City, and we’ve found that these anchor parks are truly essential to the health and wellness of the neighborhoods they serve – these are large, resource-rich parks that pull communities together.”