New Workout Area and Half-Court Junior Basketball Court Open; Community Can Vote on More Projects Like It

By Carol Tannenhauser

A new recreation and fitness area intended for tweens and younger adults opened in Riverside Park at 76th Street this week, and it’s just what the neighborhood ordered — literally.

Council Member Rosenthal and the Parks Department deserve props, but let’s give credit where it’s also due: to the Upper West Side community at large, which conceived of the project and voted to fund it in 2016, through a program that is the government equivalent of a game show, called “Participatory Budgeting.”

Here’s how it works:

Every year, each of the 51 New York City Council Members is budgeted $1 million to be spent in their districts at the discretion of their constituents. Council members solicit and accept all suggestions for potential projects from the public, stipulating that they must (1) be physical improvements or equipment (not staff or programming); (2) be located on city property; and (3) cost at least $50,000.

“Each idea is carefully vetted, and then every viable project is fleshed out by our staff, volunteers and community delegates,” Rosenthal’s Communications Director Sarah Crean explained. “If a project meets all criteria, can be carried out with the requested funds, and the relevant city agency has indicated it is doable, it gets put on the ballot.”

The number of projects on the ballet varies from year to year, as does the number of winners.

“The project with the most votes wins, and then the next, and then the next, until we hit the $1 million mark,” Crean said. “If we have gone lightly over the $1 million mark, sometimes CM Rosenthal rounds out the next project with her discretionary dollars to help get it done.”

The 2019-2020 Participatory Budgeting process is now in the suggestion stage.

“Anybody who wants to get involved in the process can reach out to us now, propose their ideas, and work with fellow residents to flesh out all the proposals in November and December,” Crean said. Here is the link. The Participatory Budgeting link for Upper West Siders living in Mark Levine’s district is here. And you can watch a video about Participatory Budgeting here.

Suggestions about how to spend $1 million to improve the neighborhood are due November 1st.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 6 comments | permalink
    1. UWSDrew says:


    2. Sherman says:

      This is awesome news but why is it “intended for tweens and younger adults”?

      It should be intended for everyone.

      I run in Riverside Park on a regular basis and I plan on working out there.

      • GG says:

        I think they mean the basketball court because it is a lowered rim for little kids. Probably about 7 or 8 feet instead of 10 which is normal NBA height.

        I don’t think they want adults playing there and dunking on little kids like they are Shaq circa 1998.:) Although that does sound like fun!!

    3. LILLY KELLY says:

      I appreciate the fact that Councilperson, Helen Rosenthal provided a beautiful recreational facility on 76th Street & Riverside Drive — EXCEPT she seems to continuously ignore those of us who reside in the 80’s and the 90’s. Here we have the large Central Park Recreation area in the middle of the park that is shabby and in bad need of repair. Yes, you can play tennis over there — and yes there is a basketball court (that doubles as a warm-up space for those joining the “walking group” but for the most part this once beautiful area is mostly occupied by the Park Rangers who have adopted it as there own more than 8 years ago. This is not fair. the basketball court that we have is is just a beat-up cement square (not as attractive as the one featured here) box. There should be a fitness center one could warm up and do exercise — as was the case before the Park Rangers took over one of the rooms with exercise equipment and an instructor (directly adjacent to the room where I used to take Yoga classes. Or the larger room across the way that used to house the man-made mountain for rock climbing classes for children. Why does she not see the need for something like that for us? She is our representative too. All of her efforts are always seem to concentrate on those who reside in the 60’s and 70’s. At least they have the Gertrude Elerbe Recreation Center that has all of this and a swimming pool for those in that area. The schools down there get a lot of love from her in the way of repairs and programs. What about us?