Tuesday, November 17, 2015

NYPL Midtown Campus Play Library

Libraries located near parks are a good fit to lend recreation objects. NYPL's Midtown Campus , is near several parks/plazas//POPS ' it could act as recreation equipment parkhouse to these parks (see Partnering Libraries and Park)

-In addition to Bryant Park Corporations offerings for Bryant Park, NYPL's Midtown campus could offer a Library-Park Recreation Model Library Parkhouse of recreation equipment to supplement the Bryant Park Collection for Bryant Park. Specialized needs recreation equipment stored here could supplement Bryant Park Corporations Offerings.

The NYPL Play Library could also  be used in area plazas, parklets  and Privately Owned Public Spaces  such as One Bryant Park, Times Square Plaza,  Grace Plaza.and the soon to open Boulevard 41

One Bryant Park Atrium    is an" indoor park", that only offers seating and no other recreation amenities. During cold momths, Chess, Scrabble and other table games could be borrowed from the NYPL Play library for use here. (Could one use a hula hoop or jump rope here too? good question.

Grace Plaza

Boulevard 41

Bryant Park Children Playspace
Have Bryant Park add more loose play childrens play opportunities to Bryant Park
Either Bryant Park or NYPL can lend this equipment

Possible Locations
If run by Bryant Park
adjacent to carosel
as part of art cart

40th Street and 5th avenue near Mid Manhattan, Midmanhattan would serve as  Library Parkhouse for this area (see Partnering Libraries and Park)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Flatiron Playspace Multigenerational Inclusive Recreation where East Meets West

Given that there is a 21 million dollar redesign of Flatiron plaza  including Worth Square Park is about to occur it  would be great if  rather then just more and upgraded passive recreation seating areas,  that the upgrade was used to offer activities and activities recreation opportunities to the Flatiron District. Here's why...

As far as I can tell except for special events programming New York City's Flatiron District offers no active recreation for its youth, adult and senior residents, nor any special needs recreation for any of its residents, workers  or visitors. 

1-Madison Square Park- Seating, Art, Playground, Dog Run , Food Recreation, Rest Room
2-Worth Square Park-Seating,  Food Recreation
3-41 Madison Ave POPS-Seating, Food Recreation
4-Madison Green POPS-Seating
5-Flatiron Plaza North-Seating, WiFi Art Recreation, Food Recreation
6-Flatiron Plaza South-Art Recreation WiFi,  Seating Food Recreation
Adjacent to Public Spaces:Food Recreation (7)

 Food Recreation:12
Art Recreation 3
Dog Run 1
Wi-Fi 2
Doggy Active Recreation 1
Children (under about 7 years old)   Active  Recreation 1
 Children (over about 7 years old)   Active  Recreation 0
Youth Active Recreation 0
Adult Active Recreation 0
Senior Active Recreation 0
Special Needs Active Recreation 0

Other then playgrounds  for dogs and very young children  there is not much in the way of active recreation offering in  Community Board 5's Flatiron District. According to the Flatiron Partnership 250,000 people live in the Flatiron

Over 250,000 people, that's a lot of people. Whose responsibility is it to offer  youth, adult, senior  ,   active  recreation for the Flatiron District?  The current answer seems to be the parks of community boards 4 and 6.    Unfortunately...

we have an obesity crisis....

A new report reveals staggering statistics about the extent to which the obesity epidemic is robbing Americans of their health and longevity. Columbia University and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation examined the real impact of obesity on death rates.1

The study found that nearly one in five US deaths is associated with obesity, which is more than three times higher than previous estimates.   link

Active park users were less likely to be overweight than those who had longer park visits and either used the park for passive activities or did not use the park at all “ link

New York City comes in 24th out of 50 metropolitan areas on the 2014 American Fitness Index, a report released by the American College of Sports Medicine.NY Post 

                           Image of a  Community Board 5 Park that offer only food as recreation

  ...it it does not seem helpful for Flatiron public spaces to ...

-offer easy access to on premise "food recreation"
  making public space users   "bring your own bottle"  for active recreation in those same spaces
-or asking  them  go to  CB4/6 for active recreation

                        (above) "Bring  Your Own Bottle" Active Recreation area in Madison Square Park
 Total participants active recreation =2
                   (Below)  adjacent "available on demand" Shake Shack "Food Recreation" area,
Total participants food recreation= A LOT
You don't have to bring your own fork to a restaurant.
You do have to bring your own recreation equipment to a park

One playground leader said that parks were appropriately called urban “breathing spaces” because “breathing was about all one was permitted to do in them” (Boyer, pp. 244-245).  . (page 30 link)

We might forget that parks are supposed to be for play. Striking sculptures...are nice to look at but they take up valuable picnic and catch-playing real estate” link

The natural environment of a park is not enough to attract some elderly uses,.” People places

-Madison Square Park is a passive recreation park, with a lot of seating. The addition of Flatiron Plaza created an adjacent passive  recreation park with still more seating.Worth Square Park is used for... more social seating.   I think  social seating is really  great, but having all this social seating  does nothing to meet CB5   community active recreation needs. .

Following are several  ways to add active /activities recreation to the Flatiron District so as to put Active Recreation offerings on a more equal footing with food recreation offerings.

Scenario 1 :Flatiron Playspace

MSP, Parks Department, and Flatiron Partnership ,cooperate and  jointly take responsibility for Flatiron District  active recreation needs.

Transform Worth Square Park into CB5's first  adult active recreation park

-Add a staffed  active recreation parkhouse to Flatiron  Plaza, jointly run and  staffed by MSP, the Flatiron Partnership and NYC Parks Department.

-Create dedicated active recreation areas in Madison Square Park and Flatiron Plaza

This scenario has all 3 major open space providers in the Flatiron district share responsibility for active recreation.

Scenario 2 : Worth Square   Playspace

NYC Parks Department takes sole  responsibility for Flatiron District active recreation needs. 

Transform Worth Square Park into  CB5's first  fixed equipment adult, youth, senior  active recreation park  with some flexible options recreation also.

Scenario 3: Broadway Playspace
Transform Broadway in Flatiron from a place for cars to a place for people. Add area to either scenario 1 or 2.

Scenario 4  Community Board 4 and 6 Playspace
Community boards 4 and 6 continue to  take responsibility for Flatiron district  youth, adult, senior   active recreation needs

 No one takes responsibility for inclusive and special needs recreation in CB5's outdoor spaces.

Scenarios 5
Flatiron Broadway Sales Mall 
More Flatiron Social Seating and Commercial Recreation Space

Transform Broadway in Flatiron from a place for cars to a place for people.Add area to Scenario 4

Broadway at Flatiron  transformed into
location  for more Food Recreation offerings
an area for Holiday Shopping Kiosks and
more junk marketing campaigns

Scenario 6, 7


 Scenario 1
Everybody Cooperates

“I am a planner,” he said. “And as a planner, I look at parks very differently. Parks do not sit in isolation. -Mitchell Silver, NYC Parks Commissioner

Cooperation Examples

Gameon! Downtown Alliance  -A joint games and activities series including spaces managed by Parks Department Parks, DOT Plazas, and City Planning Privately owned Public Spaces

.The programming series is entitled Game On!, and will present a variety of games and activities in Water Street’s public spaces.  The goal of the programs is to activate these spaces to encourage the nearby commercial and residential tenant populations to utilize these areas in new, lively and fun ways. Everything from Nok Hockey and Foosball tables, giant Connect Four games, Battleship board games, traditional chalk games like hopscotch, shuffleboard and mini golf will be available.

Capital Space in Washington DC gets all the public space entities in Washington planning  together to cohesively plans for Washington DC's public space needs . By having all open space stewards in Washington plan jointly a far more cohesive public space plan arises.

Currently there is no central planning for CB5 open spaces, so practically everybody had made the decision to offer food as recreation, and practially nobody has offered to addess active recreation needs. As far as I can tell Community board 5 Parks committee currently just reacts to what area public spaces come tom it with, as opposed to  trying to guide area open spaces to make sure everybodys recreation needs are met, not just the people who want to sit and eat.

Here's a few thoughts on looking at  the larger picture of recreation in CB5

Community boards 4 and 6 offer Basketball, Baseball and handball courts to CB5 residents. What does CB5 offer in return?

At Bryant Park they offer staffed areas offering ping pong, board games, social seating , and art

At Madison Square Park they offer  social seating, dog run

At Union Square Park thet offer Greenmarket, Dog run

The parks department can't afford staffed facilities i CB4 and 6, Bryant Park does one of the best jobs of offering staffed facilities central to residents of 4, 5 and 6 .Flatiron Playspace  and Union Square Park can by offeing parkhouses, offer staffed recreation as Bryant Park does, but as staffed parkhouse  facilities do this at an affordable price..

By offering multi generational inclusive recreation offerings, these locations can become the regional inclusive playspaces for CB 4, 5 and 6

Flatiron Playspace
A Cooperative effort between  Flatiron District Public spaces:

Flatiron Partnership
Madison Square Park

Worth Square Park 

Shared Parkhouse
This scenario revolves a parkhouse that lend recreation equipment being shared by MSP, WSP and Flatiron Partnership.  Here is an example of such a parkhouse at Rockefeller Park ina NYS Park in  Battery  Park City.

At the Rockefeller parkgoers can go up to its window and borrow active and activities recreation equipment for all  ages and many  abilities

A temporary  "Something for Everyone" "Library   model" parkhouse where park goers of all ages and abilities  can borrow equipment,  can  be installed  for next season., so as to get some feedback on how to do one right. A permanent one should be part of the Flatiron Plaza redesign and be located so as to serve  Flatiron Plaza, Madison Square Park and Worth Square Park . Talking to people,  the issue of staffing money came up. To minimize cost, funding  of staff and equipment can be shared by the 3 entities. .

One location for the parkhouse might be an underutilized location of northern Flatiron Plaza.

                 To the right of the sidewalk the sliver of Flatiron Plaza is unused

I did in person surveys of Midtown area open space   users a while back
Here are some of  the results... 

Most requested activities
New York Times
Ping pong,
Exercise Bikes 
 Jump Rope,
 Hula Hoop
Wall Street Journal
Pool Table
Air Hockey
Gian Screen TV
Horse Shoes
Board Games
Comic Books
Rocking Chairs
Swing Seats
Nok Hockey
Squeeze Balls
Daily News
Corn Hole
Power Bands
Least Requested activities

Have it Your Way Recreation
 With a fixed equipment park, one would has to pick and choose what recreation equipment you offer and what groups you cater to. . With  a library model parkhouse , all 24 of these activities recreation item requests  can be honored . You could have  multiple  copies of the most requested  items, and single  copies of the least  requested items.. Over time, other items can be requested by parkgoers, and easily added to the Flatiron Playspace recreation mix, in days, not decades as with a fixed equipment only park

Manhattans First Inclusive Recreation Playspace for ALL ages and abilities
Currently there are no inclusive playspaces in CB5. By lending equipment for both  the able and disabled this parkhouse would allow CB5 to create the  midtowns areas first inclusive playspace for all ages and abilities.

Not so special special needs equipment
As it turns out much   "special needs” recreation  equipment  need not be special, they just need to be available .  For example puppets  and   Lego  for autism,  a hula hoop for the blind , Parkinson disease, and stroke victims ,    Bilibo for Downs Syndrome, horse shoes for senior, reading material for people in wheelchairs,  virtual reality for people of very limited movement ability. The parkhouse will offer equipment like this.

 Special  designed special needs recreation equipment
Specially designed equipment for a wide range of special needs can be  purchased  as requested and be offered at the parkhouse.

Through the use of the  Library model of inclusive recreation, CB5 could fastrack the creation of  CB5's first park  offering special needs recreation for  all CB5 residents.

The parkhouse would serve...

-Worth Square Park  Section 
 Worth Square Park is .27 acres (11761 feet) square feet.It could be enlarged by incorporating space from adjacent Flatiron Plaza sliver areas.

Rather then have Worth Square Park continue as simply  more social seating for Flatiron Plaza , or be transformed into a fixed equipment playground. , how about it becomes a  full time  flexible  "have it your way" activities playspace that is jointly programmed by NYC Parks Department and    community.members/groups.

Worth Street Park Community Garden
  I know of no community gardens in the Flatiron area (or for that matter anywhere in Community board 5) .  Worth Square parks planting area can become CB5's first  community garden.

Worth Street Park Community  Outdoor Art Gallery


 Madison Square Park has a art program that offers parkgoers  the ability to view fine art produced by artists from around the country and the world. .  Flatiron Partnership also offers professional art  exhibits at times. Neither of these is particularly neighborhood oriented.  The Worth Square Park's fence , could be used for a year round community  art gallery, with ever changing exhibits as chosen by people who live and work around the area.  

FIT is located a few blocks from Worth Street Park (26th St and 7th Ave) .  I talked with FIT  students and they are interested to have a neighborhood public space to exhibit their works..
                                                                     FIT Chalk Art

Worth Square Park  Sidewalk
 . It  can have embedded  Hopscotch, skully,  a maze ,and other sidewalk activities build into the sidewalk.


...chalk art too!


Bird Feeders for Readers- Worth Square Park Reading Room

 A portable Reading room   in Worth Square Park would be keeping with the  flexible equipment idea.

Worth Square Storage Room
This can function as a  storage room for larger equipment.

Worth Square Park Movable Parts Play-Recreation for all Ages and abilities
The current Madison Square Park Playground seems to be oriented towards very young children,  ,   Worth Square Park  can serve older kids, adults and seniors  with loose parts, and movable equipment play.

Importance of Loose parts...

RMIT University researcher Brendon Hyndman found  the children were more inclusive when they played with everyday objects, compared to times when they used conventional playgrounds.

 A recent study of daycare-center playgrounds found that when kids had access to items like balls, hula hoops, and jump ropes, they were more active than when they had only stationary structures to play on... Typical playground equipment does help develop certain motor skills, like climbing," says study coauthor Dianne Ward, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "But kids play harder and longer when they have more portable playthings around."

Looose Play-Lego at the High Line

Kids Simpson Chess set.....

Hula Hoops and Jump ropes , and other items can be borrowed from the parkhouse and used here too

Nok hockey,  Foosball and possibly ping pong tables can be stored in the Worth Street Park  storage room (or Flatiron Playspace parkhouse) and setup at Worth Street Park.

Madison Square Park and Flatiron Partnership Sections  

Proposed Dedicated On Demand Recreation  Areas

  Madison Square Park   Family Recreation  Area
Portable Nok Hockey, foosball, pool table, air hockey and other easily movable   sports equipment can be stored in the Flatiron Playspace parkhouse,  The play area could be at the existing underutilized gravel area adjacent to  Shake Shack in Madison Square Park (can be pre-emptied by special events) 

With the installation of a parkhouse, family friendly active and activities  recreation options could flourish in the Flatiron Playspace, as they have in Rockefeller Park. .

Family friendly board game playing on the Rockefeller Park Plaza

Other equipment to borrow from the parkhouse for use in the MSP Family playspace include ...



Virtual Workout Trainer can be borrowed from the Parkhouse and use in the play area

Any public space that offers WiFi access will in the future have the potential to be a best active recreation park here's why

. TheFlatiron Playspace parkhouse can lend VR Workou headsets, your own personal trainer, at a price both you and the park can afford

Madison Square Park Kids Loose Parts Play Area
It will be years before a new childrens play area is built in Madison Square Park. Until then, there is an area just across from the childrens playground that can be used as a full time unsupervised  childens free play area.. I brought a petition to the playground about this concept, and most of the nannies and parents I spoke to signed the petition.
Rockefeller Park has such an area, which is unsupervised,  As far as I know the grassy area at Rockefeller Park is available 7 days a week.

To mitigate any concerns MSP has over their grass, the loose parts  play area can rotate between  areas, such as, Sparrow and Cherry so as to allow the grass to rest. Equipment for all areas will be available from the Flatiron Playspace parkhouse.

Flatiron Plaza Table  Game Area
In most locations,  Citybikes are stored in a linear fashion. The Flatiron Plaza North  Citybike island  area would be far more valuable as playspace. Move the bikes elsewhere to a street or sidewalk. , One though for the area is  for a dedicated chess, checkers and other table games area.

 The  dedicated table games area at Bryant Park, attracts hundreds of people every day.

Encouraging Literacy-Little Free Libraries for MSP and Flatiron Plaza

 One or more little free libraries for all ages  can be in the Flatiron Playspace. Worth Squares will be portable. Other ones may be fixed in nature. Shown below,  Parks Commissioner Michell Silver at a Little Free Library in Marcus Garvey Park.

Fixed Recreation Equipment in the Flatiron Playspace

Rather  then having to place  fixed exercise equipment in places like Worth Square Park, There are  alternative location for them that will fit  "sliver spaces"

On the western edge of MSP  equipment like exercise bikes, foosball tables, senior exercise equipment. swings and handicapped swings can be placed (swings would face north south) in a linear fashion.

Swings can be placed parallel to the  street or sidewalk, on the north eastern sliver edge of Flatiron Plaza     link

Placing exercise equipment at curbside transforms  useless  space into active recreation space

 Linear excercise .link

                                                       Wheelchair swing, place parallel  to street

Active Design: Madison Square Park Activities and Active Recreation  Seating
Currently Madison Square Park offers mostly passive recreation  bench seating, and and 2 areas with  social recreation  seating . How about adding activities and active   recreation seating to their seating mix?

One thought replace some of the benches on the Madison Avenue  perimeter  of Madison Square Park with swing seats.

 These passive recreation benches(above)  can be replaced with activity recreation swing seat benches  (below) such as Bryant Park offers

A second idea is that passive recreation benches are actually active recreation benches-if only people were given an instruction book.
       On the Madison Ave Side of Madison Square Park, place signage like this next to the bench

Scenario 2
-Parks Department goes  it alone-
Worth Square  Playspace
 Fixed  Equipment with Loose Parts Components

-Transform the 11,000 square foot  Worth Square Park into Broadway Playspace CB5's first neighborhood  fixed equipment  active recreation park.

At 11,0000 sq feet Worth Square is pretty small.

  How about incorporating parts of the northern tip of the plaza area  to create a larger park.

-Incorporate Flatiron Plaza sliver(A)  that   surrounds  WSP, and is currently used mainly  for food recreation, into Worth Square  Playspace

 -Move Citybike station(B) elsewhere, make their current area, part of  Worth Square  Playspace

- Add North Eastern tip sliver spaces(C)  of Flatiron Plaza to   Worth Square  Playspace this will include part of adjacent  sidewalk.

Area B will become table games area, outdoor reading room area. No food. For people who want to play and eat they should  take equipment to Flatiron Plaza.

Area C will become area for fixed equipment and swings.
These items will be placed parallel to curb

Adult Swings could be placed in area C parallel to curb along with...

                                                       Wheelchair swing, place parallel  to curb area C

 Tandem rocker for people with autism  . I suspect this will be fun for everyone.

In addition to the C street space  and its adjacent sidewalk , perhaps some benches can be removed, and replaced by active recreation equipment.


Senior Playground equipment

The Worth Monument shed will be used as a storage shed for movable equipment, that can be swapped into the park by parks department maintenance employees. .

Ping Pong
Nok Hockey
Pool Table
air hockey
corn hole
drawing boards/tables

Tables for loose parts play
-Lego blocks
-art supplies

Some equipment such as the ping pong table will be able to be locked to ground, so it does not move

Walls of the storage shed  will be available as a drawing surface for parkgoers

I mentioed a whole bunch of items for Worth in the Flatiron Playspace Scenario, , many can be done here too.
Community Art Gallery
Community Garden
Outdoor reading room
None of these are expensive.

Equipment and Staff funding

Capital Budget
Most recreation equipment at Worth Square Playspace will be fixed capital budget items:
Capital budget items on parks property will come from the parks department
Capital budget items on DOT property will come from the 21 million dollar upgrade

Expense Budget

Perhaps parks can fund this on their own, if not. I was at Bryant Park and saw how they funded their winter ice skating rink- with a sponorship by Bank of America.

Worth Square Playspace could be expense funded by offering  sponsorship  rights, to either a toy related organization, or perhaps  a bank.

 Loose Parts Village
at Worth Square Playspace

at Worth Square Playspace

Scenario 3
additional  space
Broadway Playspace
Flatiron area Broadway Reclamation

Broadway Playspace

CB5 has no active recreation parks. It may well offer  less active recreation offerings then anyplace else in Manhattan. Land is scarce and expensive in this neighborhood, and I doubt that there are existing lots available in the area for a active recreation park. If traffic is removed from the Broadway section of Flatiron Plaza it will present an unprecedented opportunity to add this new area as active recreation parkland

Here are some thoughts.....

Broadway Playspace 24th St to 25th St  (Parks Department)



  Large loose equipment such as this special needs tricycle can be made available from the partkhouse


                  Pavement into  grass area to play on

UNI Reading Room

Portable basketball for kids

   Lego for autism

Broadway Playspace 23rd St to 24th Street (Flatiron Partnership)
The Flatiron Partnership built this interactive item(Nova)  as a temporary exhibit, It may have a secondary use as a playspace for people with autism.  How about this

-Build a bunch of  great lookiing  active recreation items and/or interactive items like this. Populate  Broadway Playspace between 23-24th st. with them.

This will create a signature attraction to the space that
-Draw people to the  Flatiron Area
-Help meet resident active and activities recreation needs
-Give people activities alternatives to eating

-Add a new pieces  every year(this piece was part of a Flatiron Partnership yearly competition).

 By asking that the  new added southern Broadway Space is  to be used as part of a community   playspace as opposed to a space for more  food recreation/commercial/junk marketing. both the Flatiron Partnership merchants and the community will benefit. The community gets   more  playspace  , the merchants of the Flatiron district, get a child friendly tourist draw attraction to draw people to the district.

Contrast this idea to Times Square Plaza.  In  Times Square the BID has offered nothing of interest to kids and families. So what has occurred is private merchants have moved in to do the job.

                                     Best  children's entertainment in Times Square Plaza
                                (actually only children's entertainment Time Square Plaza)

Broadway Playspace South of 23rd Street
Currently there is social seating here, a citybike station, and a plaza eatery.  I  think this area will be redesigned to be  more of the same.

Land like this is too valuable for a citybike station,. The citybike station can be moved onto an adjacent sidewalk.

Rather then just the same old plaza, how can this space be converted into something that can also meet neighborhood active recreation needs?

Currently fixed  seating benches and social seating tables and chairs are offered here. How about adding recreation seating to the mix.

 EFGH Swing Parklet Van Alen Institute Finalist

Swing for autism spectrum

Rocking Chairs



Swimg seats Los Angeles Sprimg Street Parklet

Scenario 4

Community Board 4 and 6 Playspace Signage

Business as usual.. No outdoor space  in the Flatiron District  takes responsibility for youth,  senior, adult, inclusive and special needs active recreation in Flatirons  outdoor spaces.

Community boards 4 and 6 continue to  take responsibility for Flatiron district  and CB5  youth, adult, senior   active recreation needs. This is kind of like Newark providing Hobokens active recreation.

As part of the Flatiron Plaza upgrade,  in place of adding  active recreation to CB5, DOT could be requested to add signage  throughout  the Flatiron District   with  directions to  active and activities  recreation parks that  are located in community boards 4 and 6. Also they can add  signage for directions to   Bryant Park.

                                      112 West 20th Street To Asser Levy Recreation Center

 200 East 23rd Street to Bryant Park

I am kidding about posting  these signs, Hopefully they have helped made my point. Twenty minutes is too far.  As this chart shows after 3 blocks (3 minutes) use of a park decreases drastically.
The chart is for a passive recreation park, but active recreation usage just as surely decreases as distance increases. If we looked at the number of people in CB5 who use the parks of VB4 and 6 I suspect it it would be pretty slim.

Scenario 5 
Broadway turns into Commercial Space

If area D and E are not turned into park, here is what will probably occur

Food Recreation


Attention neighborhood foodists: it’s your favorite time of year! Mad. Sq. Eats is returning to Worth Square Friday, September 21!! This month-long outdoor market will bring you 26 vendors from some of the city’s most raved about eateries, including returning Mad. Sq. Eats favorites as well as some newbies to keep things feeling fresh. All are welcome to stop on by, grab a drink and EAT! Mad. Sq. Eats is open daily September 21 through October 19 from 11am to 9pm.
With the extensive line-up of vendors, be sure to stop by early and often and try it all! Worth Square is located directly adjacent to Madison Square Park on the intersection of Broadway, 5th Avenue, and 25th Street – you can’t miss the   vibrant umbrellas and tablecloths!
- See more at: http://www.madisonsquarepark.org/things-to-do/calendar/fall-eats#sthash.IsbNsYtu.dpuf
Attention neighborhood foodists: it’s your favorite time of year! Mad. Sq. Eats is returning to Worth Square Friday, September 21!! This month-long outdoor market will bring you 26 vendors from some of the city’s most raved about eateries... link

Junk Marketing Promotions

The online market eBay, promotes their "Hot Deals for Hot Days" promotion in Flatiron Plaza in New York on Tuesday, July 7, 2015.   link

 #stayamazing promotion

Flatiron Broadway addition will make room for more ...

Food sales

Urban Space Fashion District Plaza  link

Penn Station-area workers: good news! ... for those of us who work near Penn Station, 
this is a godsend!   link

....and for the creation of seasonal  Flatiron Shopping Markets on Flatiron Broadway

The Union Square Holiday Market is the New York destination for an intimate and enjoyable holiday shopping experience..  Urbanspace

Just as you thought the holiday season couldn’t get any better, the Urbanspace team is excited to announce our brand new Garment District Holiday Market! Urbanspace

As a vendor, you'll enjoy being part of our spectacular Bank of America Winter Village, which features over 120 vendors selling a variety of goods... is a must-see destination for tourists and New Yorkers alike   link

... plus larger promotional marketing events

 Snapple promoted its new white teas with hot air balloon rides over Bryant Park.link

 Prince Charles's Campaign for Wool is coming to the U.S. for the first time, making its preliminary stop in New York's Bryant Park today.  link

Here's the community's feeling on Junk Marketing

Clayton Smith, chair of Community Board 5's Parks and Public Spaces committee, said companies' installations take the pedestrian plazas away from the public.
"Product launches and commercial events deny the public that space and disrupt daily life for residents and businesses," Smith said. "It's inconvenient, it's in the way and it's cynical."
"Oh, I can't walk through this public space because it's been rented to a corporation," he said he thinks while navigating the advertising.

"Community Board 5 sent a letter to the mayor, the City Council and Borough President Gale Brewer on Jan. 9 condemning the city for giving pedestrian plaza space to advertisements and commercial publicity stunts, and called for a working group to address the issue."   link

NYC Parks Department vs Conservancy/BIDS

The primary mission of the parks department is to create parks that serve the needs of the community. Unfortunately due to budget constraints, (plenty of capital budget, no staff budget) they are not always able to carry out their mission as best as they can.

The primary mission of many parks and plazas  run by BIDS/Conservancies   in many  instances seems to be  to serve commercial interests, and/or  to offer  activities that will  generate the funds to pay for their spaces.

 Based on who gets control over any  new Broadway  areas, Flatiron will get two very different experiences. Only one of them will serve the active recreation needs of the community.

Scenario   6, 7,8 

Exclusion and Inclusion 
Many  open spaces subtly  exclude use by many groups   through their their lack of offering  features   that would attract those groups,

For example, Union Square park offers a playground for little kids, , seating for older people, a dog run,  food as recreation (The Pavilion) shopping as recreation (Union Square Holiday Market)   It is inclusive for people who want these features,   It subtly excludes use by  ping pong players,   the disabled who are offered no equipment of interest(wheel chair swings, audible balls etc) ,,  youth who would like to play  foosball. etc, etc etc  Can these groups  still go to Union Square Park? Yes, but many do not bother as the park does not offer  recreation opportunities that interested them.

I've no doubt that the Flatiron Plaza upgrade plan  will meet ADA standards, I strongly doubt the organizations involved are creating activities at the space that will allow everyone  to feel included, no matter what their ages or abilities. .

Here's some suggestions...

 Jaron Black on the left is visually impaired, his friend on the right is blind. I met them at the 23rd street and 8th avenue subway stop.. Our talk let me know  they want more active recreation activities for the visually handicapped then are currently offered. Bell Balls are one item they would like to see offered in parkhouses.

Talk to Me


People don't generally talk to strangers in public spaces. Have one bench or table in the Flatiron Playspace  with a sign "  talk to me" and an explanation of the concept. . If you are sitting there, it means you want people to talk to you. .

I  was talking Nooria  at the Andrew Heskill Braille and Talking Book Library (40 W 20th St). I asked her what activities she would like as part of the upgrade.,One of her suggestions was to be "included". by sighted people.  I suggested  she have a seat where the  talk to me sign was.

 Play with Me -part of the Table Game Area
"One hobby my visually impaired friend Charlene and I share is a love for games of practically every sort. We've wiled away many a glorious breezy afternoon at the cabin playing card games like Kaiser, 500, Euchre, and Pinochle using my friend's special pack of brailled cards. To this day I'm still trying to figure out how she cheats using that deck.

We've also played several classic tabletop diversions, like Monopoly and Scrabble, using boards that feature raised surfaces that allow Char to feel (in the tactile sense) where to place a playing piece on the game grid. In the case of Monopoly, the Community Chest, Chance, and property cards are brailled so that Char can read them without assistance from a sighted person. Similarly, the letter tiles used in Char's version of Scrabble are brailled, so you can imagine that I watch very closely when she puts her hand inside the bag to draw out new tiles. She's a slippery one, I tell you". link

By offering braille cards, and Scrabble at the Flatiron Playspace, table games area, the area will  be inclusive towards the area's s large Visually Impaired community  (both Visions for the Blind and the Andrew Heiskell Talking book library are in the neighborhood).

  The Bryant Park table games  area creates a space where people of all ages  come regularly and meet to play games. Just as important as the games are the relationships you build over time with the other regular players. Creating ongoing spaces that allow relationships to be built over time is important. Brtyant Park Games is really a community center open to people of all ages.

Note-When I first visited the Bryant Park Table games area, 1 person was there using it, yoday a lot of people use it, it took them several years to work  out how to get it going. 

Why a self organizing community component is needed...

Involvement and Participation
The concept of involvement and participation
underlies this whole report. It seems central to the
comments of all our consultants. Rand has
summarized the point when he says, "Designed
environments which are thought out. formalized,
and complete are usually lifeless' and
unapproachable because (a) they do not invite
interaction and modification to suit immediate
human needs; (b) they are unable to grow, develop
and become extended through human use. Human
habitation merely fulfills (for better or far worse)
the designer's conception of their potential
meaning rather than leading to the discovery
of new functions and new forms of interaction.
Oddly enough [he goes on to say] many environ-
sents which 'work' well for people meet few
if any, aesthetic criteria ordinarily employed 
by designers." From New York, New York (1968)
 by Lawrence Halpern and Associates.

Loose parts are objects and materials that children can move, manipulate, control, and change within their play. .... It has often been observed that children presented with a gift will play longer with the box than with the toy that was in it  link

  The Theory of Loose Parts 

see: How NOT to Cheat Children  The Theory of Loose Parts


People Places

As things are set up now. Flatiron Partnership and Madison Square Park, officials "program" their spaces. through the vision of their professional staff. That's why we have no daily  active, activities,  senior, or special needs  recreation in the   Flatiron District.  The loose parts  parkhouse concept  is meant to be "programmed" by the community. with far less "visioning" from the professional staffs. 

Read a Book, Play a Game – The Dallas Morning News sponsors the Reading & Games Room.  This outdoor “room” offers books, newspapers, and board games  to play in the park.  Check out a book or a game by simply leaving your ID.  It was such fun to “check out” Candyland with the kids and play a game or two among the big towers of downtown Dallas. - See more at: http://www.rwethereyetmom.com/2013/05/5-cool-things-to-do-at-klyde-warren.html#sthash.X05GeDio.dpuf

 Read a Book, Play a Game – The Dallas Morning News sponsors the Reading & Games Room.  This outdoor “room” offers books, newspapers, and board games  to play in the park.  Check out a book or a game by simply leaving your ID.  It was such fun to “check out” Candyland with the kids and play a game or two among the big towers of downtown Dallas. - See more at: