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De Blasio Appoints Parks Commissioner

By Kaveri Sengupta | March 21, 2014 3:23pm
 Mitchell Silver, the city's new parks commissioner, has widespread knowledge of New York City.
Mitchell Silver, the city's new parks commissioner, has widespread knowledge of New York City.
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Composite: NYC Parks Department/raleighnc.gov

NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio tapped an urban planner from North Carolina to be the city's new Parks Commissioner on Friday.

Silver, the chief planning and development officer and planning director for Raleigh, North Carolina, previously spent time as a policy and planning director in New York City, a town manager in New Jersey, and as a deputy planning director in Washington, D.C., according to his biography.

He also got a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from Pratt Institute and a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from Hunter College.

“I’m honored to lead the department as we pursue the Mayor’s vision for equal and expanded quality access to parkland in every neighborhood,” Silver said Friday at the appointment ceremony at Seward Park at Essex Street between Hester and East Broadway.

Seward Park boasts the oldest children's playground in America, but has since become neglected, with a broken fountain and a thriving rat population, locals say.

Insiders interpreted Silver’s appointment as a sign that de Blasio is looking to expand his "Tale of Two Cities" goal of ending inequality into the realm of local parks, according to The New York Times.

The appointment comes on the heels of complaints from some park advocates that question the flow of funds between the city and privately-funded park conservancies such as The Central Park Conservancy and Friends of the High Line.

Friends of the High Line welcomed Silver with a statement on Friday.

“We are excited to join Mayor de Blasio in welcoming Mitchell Silver as the city’s new Parks Commissioner," said Jenny Gersten, executive director of Friends of the High Line, in a statement. "A forward-thinking planner and experienced civil leader, Commissioner Silver will be an effective advocate for our city’s incredible parks system, for all New Yorkers.”

De Blasio also added that Silver's appointment marked a shift towards park space for all New Yorkers.

“Our city’s green spaces serve as gyms, classrooms, and commuter paths for millions of New Yorkers each day, and no one is more qualified to usher in a new era of expanded access and sustainability than Mitchell Silver,” de Blasio said in a statement.