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Parks, people, and place – uncovering the relationship between New York City’s low- and moderate-income residents and their neighborhood parks


As vital common spaces within our cities, parks serve as essential sites of community care, offering a myriad of restorative and preventative physical and mental health benefits. Extensive research highlights that the quality of natural spaces, the amenities available, and even the layout of parks can significantly influence health outcomes. However, not all parks are created equal. To truly foster well-being and inclusivity, we must expand our understanding of the factors that shape the holistic impact of parks, leading us towards a comprehensive approach to park planning that benefits all members of the community.

The Community Development Usership Survey (CD Usership Survey) represents a collaborative effort between 3×3 and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks), aimed at conducting a comprehensive survey at three prominent parks in New York City: Pelham Bay Park, Prospect Park, and Van Cortlandt Park. Through this study, we strive to address two critical questions that will inform future park development: understanding the relationship between low-and-moderate income (LMI) residents and these parks, and the key characteristics of user-reported activities and perspectives within these park areas.

Community-centered approach

The NYC Parks CD Usership Survey aims to foster stronger bonds between the study area parks, and the diverse communities they serve, in efforts to create and sustain parks and green spaces that feel welcoming to everyone and amplify inclusivity and equity in outdoor green spaces. To do this, our project is seeking to achieve two objectives:

  • Better Understand the Relationship between LMI residents, and their neighbourhood parks: Our team is delving into the connecting between the study area parks, and residents from low-and-moderate income backgrounds. By conducting an in-depth analysis of this relationship, we aim to gain valuable insights into the accessibility and inclusiveness of parks for different socioeconomic groups. Understanding the challenges and barriers faced by low-and-moderate income residents in utilizing these parks will be instrumental in guiding future community development and park improvement efforts. 
  • Identify User-Reported Activities and Perspectives: Park users are the heartbeat of outdoor green spaces. A second significant aspect of the NYC Parks CD Usership Survey revolves around uncovering the key characteristics of user-reported activities and perspectives within the study area parks. By directly collecting data from park visitors, the study will benefit from the valuable insights on user-preferred activities, motivations for park usage, perceived benefits, and areas for improvement. Overall, taking a user and community-driven approach will help to co-create future park management strategies, enhance amenities, and help to tailor programming that meets the diverse needs and interests of nearby residents.

How to Participate

Our dedicated team of Field Researchers is actively present in the three study area parks, engaging with park users and gathering valuable insights through the usership survey until June 2024. Spotting our Field Researchers is simple – they’ll be wearing distinctive purple vests, making them easily identifiable amidst the park’s natural beauty. When you come across one of our team members in the field, don’t hesitate to approach them to share your own unique thoughts and perspectives.

You can also take the survey online click here to access!