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Familiar Threats Loom, But Proposed Parks Budget Delivers Mostly Good News 

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

For the first time since 2008, the preliminary FY14 budget calls for a significant increase in Parks Department staff: 414 new positions, the majority of which are dedicated to parks maintenance. The proposed expense budget totals more than $344 million, up from the $337.5 million adopted last year.
 
The 414 new positions will include 252 maintenance workers, 81 Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) Officers, 30 climbers and pruners, and 51 trades workers.

At last week's City Council Executive Budget hearing, Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White announced more details on the new, expanded PEP staff: the 81 officers will be dispersed in late summer, and the full force will comprise 18 officers each day in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island, and 22 officers each day in Brooklyn and Queens.
 
And there’s more good news : the $2 million for tree pruning that we successfully advocated to add to last year’s budget has been baselined, enabling DPR to return to a respectable 7- to 8-year pruning cycle. The total proposed amount for pruning is now $3.45 million.
 
For the fourth year in a row, however, there is no funding – not a single dollar – for stump removal, though stumps have become ubiquitous citywide in the wake of severe weather events like Hurricane Sandy.  As The New York Times reported in March, tens of thousands of stumps pervade the city’s sidewalks, 11,000 the result of Sandy alone. These stumps are a hazard as well as a lost opportunity to increase the urban tree canopy with new trees.  And because it is almost impossible to get stumps removed, some New Yorkers have soured on having new trees planted in front of their homes – a lose-lose prospect.

NY4P calls on the City Council and the Administration to add $2 million to the FY14 budget for stump removal, and to baseline this amount as they have for pruning. Only by investing in the entire lifespan of a tree – from planting to maintenance to removal – will we ensure a greener city for future generations.

We're also advocating for the restoration of approximately $26.5 million for 129 Seasonal Associates, 30 Playground Associates, 42 Pool Associates and 850 Job Training Participants (JTP's) - just as we have for three years running. Without funding for these positions, the Parks Department says four pools – Wagner in Manhattan, Faber in Staten Island, Fort Totten in Queens, and Howard in Brooklyn – would be shuttered all summer, and all pools citywide would close two weeks early. NY4P's position, and the second point of our Parks Platform 2013, is that these functions, which are core services of the Parks Department, should be baselined in DPR's budget rather than being subject to the annual budget dance between the Administration and the Council.
 
For the first time since 2008, the proposed budget for the Parks Department looks promising. But NY4P will continue to push for the final FY14 budget to go even further, by restoring funding for critical summer staff, swimming pools and JTP positions, and adding $2 million for stump removal.

We urge you to advocate for a better Parks budget, too. Here's how:

In person:

City Council Executive Budget Hearing
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan
public comment period will begin at approximately 3pm

By e-mail (before June 6):

tedwards@council.nyc.gov

By fax (before June 6):

212-788-7061



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