Association of Park Renovation with Park Use in New York City

Hanish P. Kodali, Katarzyna E. Wyka, Sergio A. Costa, Kelly R. Evenson, Lorna E. Thorpe, Terry T.K. Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Equity-driven citywide park redesign and renovation, such as the Community Parks Initiative (CPI), has the potential to increase park use and opportunities for physical activity in underserved communities. Objective: To evaluate changes in patterns of park use following park redesign and renovation in low-income New York City (NYC) neighborhoods. Design, Setting, and Participants: The Physical Activity and Redesigned Community Spaces study was a prospective quality improvement preintervention-postintervention study design with matched control parks. Thirty-three intervention and 21 control neighborhood parks were selected based on specific criteria related to poverty rates, population growth, and population density in park neighborhoods and not having received more than $250000 in investment in the past 2 decades. Data were collected at baseline (prerenovation) and 2 follow-up points (3 months and 1 year post renovation) between June 5 and December 4 from 2016 to 2022. Participants were individuals observed as users of study parks. Intervention: The CPI, which involved the redesign and renovation of neighborhood parks by the municipal government of New York City. Main Outcomes and Measures: Main outcomes encompassed park use and physical activity levels assessed using the well-validated System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities. Park use was quantified by total number of park users, categorized by age group (≤20 years vs ≥21 years), sex, and physical activity level (sitting or standing vs walking or vigorous activity). Changes in outcomes between groups were compared via the generalized estimation equation. Results: A total of 28322 park users were observed across 1458 scans. At baseline, 6343 of 10 633 users (59.7%) were 20 years or younger, 4927 of 10 632 (46.3%) were female and 5705 (53.7%) were male, and 4641 of 10 605 (43.8%) were sitting or standing. Intervention parks showed more net park users compared with control parks from baseline to the final follow-up (difference-in-difference relative rate ratio, 1.69 [95% CI, 1.22-2.35] users/scan; P =.002). The association was driven by a significant increase in adult users at intervention parks and overall decrease in all users at control parks. Park users engaging in sitting or standing at intervention parks increased (difference, 4.68 [95% CI, 1.71-7.62] users/scan; P =.002) and park users engaging in walking or vigorous physical activity at control parks decreased (difference, -7.30 [95% CI, -10.80 to -4.26] users/scan; P <.001) over time. Conclusions and Relevance: In this quality improvement study, park redesign and renovation were positively associated with park use in low-income neighborhoods. However, park renovations may need to be accompanied by other programmatic strategies to increase physical activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E241429
JournalJAMA network open
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 10 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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