A recent study - and the general neighborhood consensus - reveal positive marks for the Upper West Side's backyard By Nora Bosworth Fat snowflakes were falling on Riverside Park Saturday afternoon, but neither the dogs trotting around their run, nor the kids holding the pizza party at the Hippo Playground, seemed to mind. In fact, the 330-acre-park was far more crowded than one might expect for such a cold and wet day. On the other hand, Riverside Park is perennially tempting, living up to its elite rating in a recently released "report card" of the city's larger parks. The study, by the nonprofit New Yorkers for Parks, gave Riverside one of the highest marks in the city, at 92 overall, or, A-. The non-governmental organization graded the 43 parks based on the following features: bathrooms, courts, drinking fountains, lawns, natural areas, pathways, playgrounds, sitting areas, trees, and water bodies. Each of these facets was judged for its maintenance, cleanliness, safety, and structural integrity, on the same grading scale typically used in academia. Saturday's park goers seemed entirely satisfied with the landscape's maintenance, proof of which was their surprise when asked to opine on its upkeep. More of interest to them were their memories in the park, and their various uses of its (very) long stretch of land. Rebeca, 22, who frequented Riverside as a high school student living in the area, remembered coming of age amid the park's relative seclusion. "I started going to Riverside around the age of 14," she wrote in an emailed interview. She recalls drinking beer with her friends by the water, spontaneous make-out sessions, and going there after her prom. She calls Riverside "an essential piece" of her neighborhood. Others cherish the space as the perfect spot to exercise, particularly in the summer. New Yorkers for Parks gave Riverside a perfect score for its athletic fields and bodies of water. The park's two weak points were its water fountains, which were clogged or leaky, and its bathroom-one of which was missing a toilet, and had a broken window. Yet for a park that is so often used to have flawlessly kept courts and fields is "notable" according to the report. Overall, New York's parks seem to be on the up and up. The recent report found that a greater percentage of parks got As or Bs than in 2011, when the last study was conducted.
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