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“That is not a park”
Highbridge Park, New York City

In a very fascinating article in today's New York Times, comments made by NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe perpetuated the Victorian image of a park — an idyllic setting of well-trimmed vegetation, for genteel strolling by right honourable citizens in pursuit of physical and social betterment amidst merry-go-rounds, cotton candies and baby carriages. Geoffrey M. Croft, president of New York Park Advocates echoed this delightful sentiment: “Having prostitutes and drug users fill a park when a community needs parks, goes against everything government is supposed to do in terms of providing services and protecting people.”

What seems ironic is that the parks do provide services and some measure of protection to a marginalized segment of the community, which the city had neglected and still fails to provide some modicum of assistance, the same neglect that had marginalized them in the first place. What is even more ironic is that these “disgraceful” public spaces see more activity and actual people than so many urban public spaces, which downtown office workers avoid like the plague, and fenced-off boutique parks that give park crews heart attacks whenever so much as a candy wrapper enters and defiles their sacred precincts.

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