Parks Watch

Whether your favorite park is out in the countryside or just down the block, it’s comforting to know that it will always be there for you and yours to enjoy. Comforting – but not necessarily true. Park lands can be lost or carved up for other uses, like cell towers or municipal garages. It’s called “park alienation” – the taking of parkland for non-park use.

When that happens in New York State, the general principle is that the lost recreational space is supposed to be replaced, one way or another. This is a reflection of what legal scholars call the “public trust doctrine,” literally dating all the way back to the Roman Empire, which holds that lands, waters, shorelines and other resources held by the public are sacrosanct and cannot be given away.

But it doesn’t always work that way in practice. The current process for taking parkland for non-park uses in New York State is murky and inconsistent. The public has few options for comment and few places to seek expertise and assistance when confronted with an alienation of parkland. In addition, no statewide data exists as to the breadth and frequency of park alienation and its collective ramification.

PTNY continues to advocate for a more rigorous review process of proposals to alienate municipal parkland, as well as a way to track and enforce alienation actions once they have been approved.

On this page, PTNY will post links to proposed parkland alienations currently before the NYS Legislature.

​Current Proposed Park Alienations

S.1138 (Marcellino) - AN ACT authorizing the county of Suffolk to alienate certain parcels of land used as parkland and to acquire other parcels of land to replace such parkland

S.1365 (Avella) - AN ACT to amend the parks, recreation and historic preservation law, in relation to providing for a review process of proposals to alienate municipal parkland

S.3051 (Serrano) - AN ACT to amend the parks, recreation and historic preservation law, in relation to the reporting of alienation of municipal parkland

A.1954 (Englebright) - AN ACT to amend the parks, recreation and historic preservation law, in relation to the reporting of alienation of municipal parkland

A.2695 (Fahy) - AN ACT to amend the parks, recreation and historic preservation law, in relation to providing for a review process of proposals to alienate municipal parkland

A.3395 (Otis MS) - AN ACT to amend the general municipal law, in relation to classifying military monuments and memorials as parkland