10 Parks That Changed Staten Island

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Gas Works Park, Seattle, WA. PBS Photo. Credit: Courtesy of Matt Hagan

From Savannah to Seattle, PBS explores 10 Parks That Changed America, premiering Tuesday, April 12, 2016, 8:00 p.m. ET.  A panel of viewers previewed the show and discussed which parks in Staten Island were influenced by the 10 green spaces featured in the program.  Here are their thoughts:

  • Colonial Squares in Savannah, GA – Veterans Park, Port Richmond

Veterans Park is resembles Savannah’s Colonial Squares because has town buildings around a public square.  It is not as old as the colonial parks, but it is Staten Island’s oldest, built in 1836.

Silver Lake is part of our water supply.  Staten Island’s first New York City park, opened in 1917, with water from the Ashokan Reservoir in Ulster County, NY.  Like Fairmount Park, water is pumped up hill to the park and it feeds the Island from there.

You can walk around nature.  It’s a good place to think about how the people buried in the cemetery are in a better place.  You can get away from your sadness and enjoy the park, just like Mt. Auburn Cemetery.

Staten Islander Frederick Law Olmstead built both Central and Clove Lakes parks in the English landscape tradition where everybody could come together and enjoy views that open up like landscape paintings.

  • Chicago Park System, Chicago, IL – Walker Park, Livingston

Walker Park is part of the New York City Parks and Recreation system.  The park was previously home to the Staten Island Cricket and Tennis Association before it was transferred to the parks department.  The field house is like the ones that originated in Chicago so people could enjoy the parks and activities all year round.

  • Riverwalk, San Antonio, TX – The Bluebelt, various south shore wetlands
    (Shown: Lemon Creek)

Like Texas’ Riverwalk, The Bluebelt helps keep flooding to a minimum.  It is different from Riverwalk because it uses the natural environment helps redirect and absorb water away from homes.

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Lemon Creek Park is part of the Staten Island Bluebelt system. Photo: Andrew Moszenberg for Life-Wire News Service, 2015.
  • Overton Park, Memphis, TN – The Greenbelt, various contiguous mid-island green spaces

You can get away from the congestion of Staten Island. Like Overton Park, local activists saved the green spaces that became The Greenbelt from highway development.

  • Freeway Park, Seattle, WA – Staten Island Expressway

There is no existing park to compare to Freeway Park in Seattle.  There is an opportunity to build a park behind Petrides School in Todt Hill that would connect the Greenbelt to Clove Lakes Park.  People of all abilities would be able to use the paths to get from the North Shore of Staten Island as far as Great Kills in a system of connected parks.

Fresh Kills was a natural marsh and wetlands before it was turned into a landfill in 1948, ultimately becoming the world’s largest dump. With the remains of the World Trade Center, Fresh Kills is sacred ground. The new Fresh Kills Park has bicycle paths, a September 11 memorial, and even restored oyster beds.

  • The High Line, New York, NY – The North Shore Branch
    (Shown: Heritage Park, West New Brighton)

The North Shore Branch of the Staten Island Railroad ran from Arlington to St. George but is now abandoned.  It could be made into a duel function park and rail system.  If extended, it could connect to the old Nassau Smelting facility on Staten Island’s south shore, combining rails and trails together with views of the industrial waterfront and the harbor as part of the North Shore Waterfront Greenway.

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Heritage Park, part of the North Shore Waterfront Greenway. Photo: Gregory Perosi, for Life-Wire News Service, 2015.

-Written as a group, including Joseph Padalino, Steven Filoramo, Dolores Palermo, Meredith Arout, Gregory Perosi, Anthony DiFato, Jonathan Chernock, Andre Fitzgerald, and others, edited by Edward Gregory.

 

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