The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the agency charged with guiding municipalities on park alienation, or the taking of parkland for non-park use, has released an updated Handbook on the Alienation and Conversion of Municipal Parkland in New York. The document, last revised in 2005, is a resource for educating municipal authorities, legislators, and the general public about changes in parkland use or ownership and the required legislative process.
Since the days of the Roman Empire, the public trust doctrine has established that parks, waterways, and other natural resources should be preserved for public enjoyment. Today this doctrine is legally guided by decisions of the courts, rather than written laws – otherwise known as common law. In New York State, the courts have held that using parkland for a “non-park use” requires permission from the State Legislature.
Read our memo of support for legislation that tightens the requirements for park alienation and puts those requirements into statute rather than common law.