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New York expert says parks are for mental health and strengthening community, as well as physical wellness

Submitted by on May 22, 2016 – 4:00 am

Sydney - May 16, 2016: New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell J Silver poses for a photograph in Hyde Park (photo by Jamie Williams/City of Sydney)

Sydney – May 16, 2016: New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell J Silver poses for a photograph in Hyde Park (photo by Jamie Williams/City of Sydney)

Liveable cities need experience-building parks
City parks are where memories are made, couples fall in love and children grow up – according to New York City’s visionary park chief, who says well-planned open spaces encourage meaningful life events.
Mitchell Silver is an internationally-renowned planning expert who oversees nearly 12,000 hectares of parkland as New York City’s Parks Commissioner and understands the challenges of balancing increasing population growth with green open spaces for communities to walk, rest, exercise and play.


He will join a panel of experts at the CityTalks Design on Tuesday 17 May at Lower Town Hall from 6.30pm to 8pm to discuss the importance of planning parks and open spaces in cities for healthy and happy communities.


“Parks are not just for physical health, but for mental health as well,” Mr Silver said.


“People visit parks and open spaces because they enjoy the experience, so planners and designers need to be experience builders.


“Density and quality open space go hand in hand. If you want a liveable city, you can’t have one without the other. Well-designed, well-loved parks and public spaces keep people in cities stress free and happy. If we want to be happy, we have to rethink barriers to the public realm.”


Lord Mayor Clover Moore said opening up and improving green open space was one of the City’s top priorities.


“Three quarters of our city’s population live in apartments and that is expected to rise by an extra 2,000 people per square kilometre by 2030,” the Lord Mayor said.


“We’re committed to ensuring our growing community has enough open space. We have more than 400 large, medium and pocket-sized parks and open spaces, and we spend up to $25 million maintaining and upgrading these spaces every year.”


“Over the past decade, we’ve invested $270 million on open space, sport and recreation.


“Over the next decade, we have budgeted another $400 million on open space. The City has some of the densest areas in the country – which makes beautifully designed parks and open space doubly vital for people with limited or no backyards of their own.”


The City’s new Draft Open Space, Sports and Recreation Needs Study 2016, explores innovative ways the City can continue to grow open space, such as introducing synthetic playing surfaces and negotiating with schools and other agencies to open facilities for broader use.


Mr Silver has been described by New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, as ‘a visionary’ with ‘a passion for fairness and equality’.


He will be joined on the discussion panel by Director of City Planning, City of Sydney, Graham Jahn AM; Director of City Design and Projects, City of Melbourne, Professor Rob Adams AM; and Faculty of the Built Environment, UNSW, Professor Susan Thompson.

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