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State of Turtle Bay's Parks: Summer 2001
BY MARIE-LOUISE HANDAL
CHAIRPERSON, TURTLE BAY ASSOCIATION PARKS COMMITTEE

The Turtle Bay Association Parks Committee is delighted with the success we've had this year in our efforts to beautify our neighborhood parks. Even a casual stroll through any of the parks within our boundaries reveals progress being made, thanks to the gardening, cleanup, and enforcement efforts that have been underway this season. First and foremost, thanks are due to the many individuals who have generously contributed to the progress made thus far, and special thanks are due to the leadership and members of Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (Friends) and Peter Detmold Park Arf (PDPArf). Following is an update on each of our parks:

Peter Detmold Park. Aggressive watering, pruning, and soil enrichment efforts continue. The Parks Committee has met with the new leadership of PDPArf, who look after the dog run in this park. We look forward to expanded cooperative efforts at beautification. PDPArf has obtained funding for the purchase of a doggie drinking fountain in the dog run. However, they have requested that the Turtle Bay Association fund the installation of the fountain in the next month or so. The Parks Committee is awaiting their formal written request and budget for the project.

Now that the ordinary plumbing facilities in the park have been repaired and brought on line, the Parks Committee's Summer 2001 focus has been on reinvigorating the health of the Park's soil. Prolonged, deep watering is the key part of this effort. Spring/summer 2002 will focus on holding moisture through plantings and further landscaping efforts. Much work remains here, but progress is being made.

Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Park. The Turtle Bay Association firmly supports the goals of Parks 2001 (see above) and hopes that through success in its efforts, as well as continuing (and ideally, escalating) neighborhood volunteer efforts, Peter Detmold Park and MacArthur Playground will grow and flourish as Dag Hammarskjold Plaza has over the past few years.

Thanks to the ongoing efforts of Friends, signage now has clear and enforceable prohibitions against allowing pets in the planted areas, skateboarding, and feeding the pigeons. Periodic surveys of park visitors show a clear upswing in visits by families, classes from local schools, and lunchtime visitors. Café Blue has opened and has added ice cream to its original menu of coffee and pastries. It is regularly attracting a substantial clientele who rave about the "great coffee." The TBA Parks Committee is working with the Café's management to be sure trash removal and other clean-up efforts are adequate.

The TBA Parks Committee is organizing a volunteer scrub-down of the steps and other areas that have been "waxed" by skateboarders. It is hoped that the effort will discourage future skateboarding. There are now several spots with serious damage caused by skateboard hardware gashing chunks of stone out of the seating wall. If police enforcement in this matter does not noticeably improve by September, we will be asking all TBA members to participate in a telephone/letter/visit effort to communicate with the 17th Precinct and reinforce our concerns.

MacArthur Playground Park. The June 7 morning performance of Cinderella, sponsored by the TBA and performed by the Swedish Marionette Theatre was a wonderful success, with an estimated 450 people in attendance. This was our fourth annual marionette theatre production in the playground and it has become an event that neighborhood children look forward to each spring.

Complaints about encroachment by rats in all of the parks - including occasional sightings in MacArthur Playground - are being treated as an emergency situation. Efforts are now in the works to determine exactly where the problem originates, what needs to be done (we believe it will be necessary to seal all passages with the required minimum of 12 inches of concrete) and determine how this work will be funded. Although the City Parks Department will eventually get to this project, they may not be able to do the work for some time. However, the problem must be cured immediately to avoid an exponential worsening of the problem. We think the "culprit" in this problem has been identified, and we are working to permanently remove the cause of the problem and rid MacArthur Playground of this very nasty situation.

New Volunteers Welcomed. The Turtle Bay Association's "Volunteers 2001" meeting in June was a key factor in recruiting additional members to the Parks Committee, but more are always needed and certainly welcome. If you would like to join the effort, please leave your name with the TBA office voice mail, or send us an email at our website address. We will be in touch!

A simple letter such as this one is all it takes to let city officials know you care about our parks and want them to support the increased funding advocated by Parks 2001.

Dear Candidate:

As a registered voter of New York City, I urge you to make a commitment to increase the funding for parks if elected.

Clean, green, safe parks are crucial to the quality of life in this city. Properties near well-maintained parks increase in value. Adequate park funding is integral to crime prevention, education and health. The bottom line is that healthy parks lead to healthy, prospering communities.

It's time for the city to stop shifting the burden of responsibility to communities. The practice of relying on private funding to rescue parks puts the entire system in peril, creating inequities among neighborhoods. The city must allocate a sufficient budget to Park Maintenance and Operations to provide adequate levels of horticultural upkeep, litter control, repairs, enforcement and programming for all its parkland.

The current state of New York City's parks is unacceptable. I anxiously await the unveiling of your specific plan to increase parks funding and address the crisis of New York City's public parks, community gardens, and green spaces.

{Signed}

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The Turtle Bay Association is a nonprofit (501c3) community organization.

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