From Beads to Playgrounds- Leasing Away Active Design in Manhattan

Say it aint so… More active lifestyle resources being designed out of our lives. One of the beauties of the upper west side was the active design element to urban planning in some of the neighborhoods. Buildings had multiple playgrounds, community centers, bike rooms, gardens, sometimes even outdoor tennis courts and pools. This time it’s the NYCHA housing projects, following other affordable housing cousins like Mitchell-Lama, that has its amenities being carved away by a housing market with a voracious appetite. Being proposed by our Mayor is the leasing of some of NYCHA’s land, in some cases playgrounds, baseball fields and community centers, for luxury housing (with a small amount of “affordable housing” allotments). Read up on articles here.

There are all sorts of problems with this, but since I’m focusing on active lifestyles with my TEDMED panel and it’s the focus of my second novel, I note it here. Smart land use is, well smart. But when you look at the historical trend of what we’re losing in our neighborhoods, the math doesn’t look good for active living in a built environment, especially if you’re poor. Greenways, free classes at Rec centers and bikepaths are good things (which the city’s enhanced during this administration), but so are community centers, baseball fields and playgrounds, and policies that aren’t so restrictive in parks (Keep off the growing grass! Except for cross country skiing, of course.). Ah, New York… are you really just becoming a playground for the rich?

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