You may already know about the recreational and environmental benefits of open green space. In cities like New York, where most residents do not have their own yards, greenspaces like parks and gardens provide areas for playing with friends and family. They are also one of the few spots in cities for residents to enjoy clean air, quiet time, and natural greenery.
But do you know about the public safety benefits of greenspaces?
A new study by the New York Restoration Project (NYRP) found a correlation between the creation of new green spaces and improvements in crime rates and overall morale. NYRP, a nonprofit organization founded by Bette Midler, has made strides in cleaning up local parks and preserving community gardens in New York City. They focus on underserved communities lacking in greenery. NYRP turns unused public land into gardens, parks, or community spaces that all members of the community can enjoy.
This study showed that neighborhoods with restored greenspaces experienced 200 fewer crimes each year than areas without NYRP-restored parks and gardens. There were 3.8 fewer non-major felonies per 1,000 residents in the areas surrounding NYRP-updated spaces during the years following the improvements. Additionally, residents self-reported feeling safer in their neighborhoods after the creation of these new parks and gardens.
The restoration process includes building landscapes walkways, new lawns, improved sewage systems, permeable pavements, benches and tables, trees, shrubbery, and flowers. Public lots are chosen through an application process. Renovated spaces include the Gil Hodges Community Garden in Carroll Gardens, an open community space at the Creedmore Psychiatric Facility in Little Neck, and Fort Washington Park on Riverside Drive in Manhattan.
These new green spaces allowed members of the community to find pride in their neighborhood and protect it. This study shows that new or improved greenspaces are not only needed for recreational purposes. In some underserved areas, a greener environment can improve public safety and lead to a greater sense of community.