Activating Underutilized Public Spaces in the Lower East Side
Building Healthy Communities
January 3, 2020
Thousands of low- and moderate-income residents rely on the East River Park on the Lower East Side of New York City as a vital, free public space for recreation and physical activity.
As a means of flood protection, the City has announced a plan to close parts of the park in stages over at least three years, beginning in late 2020. In 2020, NYHealth awarded Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) a grant to conduct a campaign highlighting alternative public spaces in the neighborhood that residents can access for physical activity.
Under this grant, GOLES conducted an awareness campaign on alternative open spaces in the Lower East Side neighborhood that are available for public use during the park’s closure. GOLES created an Outdoor Spaces Map that serves as a resource guide to spaces that can be used for various activities, including parks, gardens, plazas, and outdoor New York City Housing Authority spaces. GOLES distributed the map at outdoor events, through partners and neighborhood canvassing, via its mailing list, and on social media. GOLES also developed and operated a series of outdoor educational and physical activity events to draw residents of all ages to these public spaces; these included exercise classes and culturally relevant dance classes. GOLES also informed residents about where and when parts of the East River Park is open, as well as how to access other public spaces. Additionally, GOLES encouraged the City to dedicate a fund for local resident leaders to apply for small grants to support their own outdoor events that promote physical activity in underused spaces.