Jamaica Bay

Happold Consulting
  • Jamaica Bay aerial view
  • Jamaica Bay flock of birds
  • Jamaica Bay view of the New York skyline

1 / Introduction

Perched on the eastern edge of New York City, the Jamaica Bay parklands cover more than 10,000 acres of land surrounding one of the most bio-diverse urban estuaries on the Atlantic seaboard. Historically, sections of the parklands have been separately owned and managed by the federal National Park Service (NPS) and the city Department of Parks, with limited collaboration in land management and provision of services. Numerous other organizations ranging from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to non-profit land trusts are involved in advocacy for, and conservation of, various sections of the parklands.

In mid-2011 a joint City-NPS planning team was formed. Facilitated by our consulting team it created a 60-day action plan for a new combined “Great Urban Park” within New York’s city limits, including big-picture strategies to address restoration, transportation, access and youth engagement. Building on this initial action plan, the team then progressed to analysis and recommendations around joint park management and the development of a conceptual master plan to guide the revitalization of the parklands and surrounding communities.

A particular challenge for the organizations was the identification of an appropriate federal-civic legal structure to collectively manage the park. Our team provided case studies and ran workshops to evaluate governance alternatives, playing a key facilitative role in the final decisions around the formal agreement. As a result, following a year of planning efforts, in July 2012 a governance agreement was signed by the Mayor of New York and the Secretary of the Interior. Since then we have led the effort to establish a permanent non-profit conservancy that will partner with the City and NPS to plan, develop, program and coordinate philanthropic support for the new park.

In parallel to the governance work our consultants led the City-NPS team in developing a plan for the future of the park addressing design, restoration, transportation and access, education and programming. This work included extensive issues and opportunities analysis to ensure that plan components were possible within existing NPS and Department of Parks land-use frameworks.

As the result of this plan we are managing a further round of feasibility studies for an array of potential park destinations and facilities including an aviation district, interactive wetlands center, and science and resilience institute. The institute will accelerate restoration activities and the wetlands center will promote natural resource stewardship, while residents of New York and coastal cities around the world will be better prepared to understand and address the environmental challenges facing them well into the future.


Key facts

  • Combination of 10,000 acres of federal parkland and city park
  • Twelve times larger than Central Park
  • Establishes new Science and Resilience Center

The Project Details

Client: City of New York, National Park Service

Happold Consulting services: Economic Development, Integrated Development Planning, Organisational Development, Project Management

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