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Home arrowNews arrowAugust 9, 2012

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Honors New York Harbor’s Great Urban Park Partnership

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) today presented its Chairman’s Award for Achievement in Historic Preservation to the Great Urban Parks Partnership created to make New York Harbor’s iconic natural and cultural treasures more readily accessible to new generations of citizens and visitors.

“The many participants in the Great Urban Park Partnership around New York Harbor may be building literal trails and figurative bridges locally, but they are also creating a model for others to emulate by encouraging public interaction with our nation’s natural and cultural treasures,” said Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA, ACHP chairman.

Donaldson presented the award to officials from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, and states of New York and New Jersey at the ACHP summer business meeting at the Newark Museum.

Award presented to honorees in Newark

Among those receiving the certificates from Donaldson at the ceremony were:

  • On behalf of the Department of the Interior: Eileen Sobeck, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks;
  • On behalf of the National Park Service, Maria Burks, Commissioner, National Parks of New York Harbor; and,
  • On behalf of the state of New York, Ruth Pierpont, Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation, New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.

Donaldson noted that it was the twin facts that 80 percent of Americans now reside in urban areas, and that the nation faces an increasing disconnect with its iconic natural and historic places, that led to the creation of the Great Urban Park Partnership forming around New York Harbor.

The Department of the Interior, New York City, and the states of New Jersey and New York are determined to make it easier for area residents and visitors to have a seamless experience of regional public lands and historic resources. Recent concrete results of the partnership’s beginning include an agreement signed just three weeks ago by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Secretary Ken Salazar on how the two entities will cooperatively manage 10,000 acres of federal and city parks in and around Jamaica Bay. There will be campgrounds, historic interpretation, beaches and bike trails in the heart of metropolitan America. Families are already being introduced to camping, kayaking, and other recreational activities at the Floyd Bennett Field Campground. The history of New York City’s first community airfield is interpreted in the Ryan Visitor Center. And New York City Urban Rangers provide recreational opportunities at the National Park Service’s Frank Charles Park.

“The governmental jurisdictions that have separated city, state and national parks in New York and northern New Jersey created artificial administrative boundaries that have tended to segment public use of the parks, keeping them from reaching their full potential. We are delighted that this partnership will help to blur those boundaries and open new connections between the community and all of our parks throughout New York Harbor,” said Maria Burks, Commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor.

But this is only the beginning. Other steps are envisioned, and some are already underway.

“New York City Department of Parks and Recreation is proud to join our colleagues at the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service to accept this prestigious honor,” said Adrian Benepe, Commissioner of the New York Department of Parks & Recreation. “Some of the most important work in the country is occurring right now at Jamaica Bay, where over ten thousand acres of environmentally essential public land is being envisioned and jointly managed as a key destination for New Yorkers, visitors, eco-tourists, athletes, wildlife enthusiasts, and all of us who love the great outdoors. Jamaica Bay is the great backyard for millions of New Yorkers and visitors, and working together the city and federal government will ensure a dynamic future for the next century and beyond.”

Ultimately, a network of bike and foot trails, blueways and public transit routes will connect people from neighborhoods to parks, open spaces, shorelines and historic sites throughout the New York Harbor region. It is hoped that the missing links on the New York Harbor trail and greenway network will be accomplished under the Great Urban Park Partnership.

Altogether, many federal, state, local and private entities will cooperate to provide an improved experience and better access for the more than 20 million annual visitors to natural and historic treasures located around New York Harbor.

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