May 26, 2020
Housing & Open Space responded to the need for a comprehensive planning
framework to balance competing demands for affordable residential development
and open space preservation.
According to the NYC Department of City Planning there has been a 1,258% increase in open and recreational space and a 33% rise in the amount of multi-family residential lots in Community Board 3 since the completion of Achieving a Balance: Housing and Open Space in Bronx Community Board 3, reflecting the successful integration of high-density housing in conjunction with parks, community gardens, playgrounds, plazas and sitting areas.
Achieving a Balance also served as a vital resource in both the 2002 settlement of Attorney General Elliot Spitzer’s injunction to protect more than 350 community gardens (nine of which were in Bronx Community Board 3) and the Morrisania Rezoning Proposal that was approved in 2003.
Heightened tension between open space advocates, housing developers and the city administration over the destruction of community gardens for subsidized housing and private development in the 1990s provided the impetus for this project sponsored by the Design Trust for Public Space, in partnership with the Trust for Public Land and Bronx Community Board 3.
The Design Trust awarded fellowships to community planners Jocelyne Chait and Margaret Seip, and to architect Petr Stand. The Design Trust also granted a fellowship to journalist Kira Gould to document the project as it progressed and to help raise public awareness of the underlying issues. Ms. Gould's efforts resulted in coverage of the project by BronxNet television and the New York Times.
The project team, led by Ms. Chait, undertook extensive research to assess the status of housing types, developable land, public parks, and community gardens within the board’s district. The team clarified political processes that affect building in the district through interviews with elected officials, public agencies, and local non-profits.
The project was grounded from the outset in community participation and dialogue. The team organized conferences with invited gardeners and housing developers, and held a design workshop in which residents were asked to graphically explore their attitudes towards housing and open space both in their own neighborhoods and from their personal histories. The team also assisted Community Board 3 in establishing its own computerized land use mapping capabilities.
The resulting publication, Achieving a Balance: Housing and Open Space in Bronx Community Board 3, summarizes project research and makes recommendations to the community board that will help the community realize its long-term planning needs. The report included an integrated case study of previous planning initiatives and existing development opportunities in Bronx Community Board 3, as well as specific place-based recommendations with broader, citywide implications that provide a strategy for establishing a coherent blend of both affordable housing and public spaces in an urban neighborhood.
I have placed ‘Achieving a Balance’ in our library so it will be available to all of my staff. You can be assured we will keep your views in mind during our ongoing discussions of this issue.