Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Stewart Park: Second-Class?

Is Stewart Park becoming a second-class citizen among local parks?

Buttermilk, Treman, and Taughannock are the superstars of the local park system. They have waterfalls, swimming areas, recreational features, and camping facilities.

They are state parks and receive state funds and maintenance. They charge a fee for parking, which helps with their upkeep.

Stewart Park, on the other hand, is a city park, and receives no direct state aid. A true people's park, it is entirely free, even the parking.

Lately, however, there are grumblings about the condition of the city's park.

Goose droppings are almost everywhere you might want to spread a blanket. The shore line is heavy with detritus. The restrooms are less than inviting.

People seem to be complaining about the park not because they love it so little, but because they love it so much. It is wonderfully accessible to town. It has beautiful trees and views. There is plenty of room, even on busy weekends. There is no swimming, but there is a sprinkler system, popular with children and unabashed adults. There are picnic tables, pavilions, and grills. The breeze off the lake is strong enough to keep you entirely cool as you suntan your way to a burn.

Stewart Park is a great resource. Recent visitors from New York City said, "At home we'd have to drive an hour to get to a place like this, and then it would be mobbed."

But like any major resource, the park needs resources itself.

Who is responsible for the upkeep of Stewart, and other city parks? A look in the phone book does not reveal a Parks Department in the city of Ithaca.

Ithaca Blog called the mayor's office today to ask about park management. What is the budget? How is it allocated?

In New York City, the most-used parks are scrutinized from almost every imaginable angle: numbers of visitors each day, to each section, by gender, by age group. Central Park is the second-most visited area in the city (after Times Square), so care is taken to maintain its value.

Ithaca Blog is interested to learn if there are similar analytical tools used here in Ithaca.
We will be back with more after speaking to the city.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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