Help Secure a Better Parks Budget

Friday, May 16, 2014

Last week's executive budget did not include any of the City Council's requested Parks Department expense budget increase of $27 million.

That funding would, most importantly, go toward the creation of at least 75 full-time maintenance and gardening jobs for parks in need across the city. It would also allow DPR to hire approximately 150 more Parks Enforcement Patrol officers.

While the news is disappointing, there’s reason to be hopeful.

The Council, led by Parks Committee Chair Mark Levine, continues to push City Hall on the request. He made a strong case for the increased funding this week on “The Brian Lehrer Show" on WNYC, and last week sat down with Mayor de Blasio to discuss the potential funding increase.

Levine told Capital New York that the mayor "reiterated his commitment to closing the parks equity gap…He didn't commit on the spot to that money,” Levine said, “but I feel like there's room for discussion there. And there's not a difference on principle I think."

Another sign the mayor wants to make a difference for parks: he has continued to include $80 million in capital funding for use at DPR’s discretion for "neighborhood parks" in the budget, which was inserted by the previous administration in early budget planning last fall. We hope the final budget adds the 55 capital division jobs that DPR has requested to really get those new projects moving forward.

Finally, on Tuesday, amNewYork added to the momentum with this editorial.


·    Call City Hall and your local Council Member and talk to their office about how important a role your local park plays in community, and what a difference more full-time workers would make.

·    Make it clear that the $27 million shouldn't just be added to the budget on a one-time basis
; it should be baselined – that is, made a permanent fixture in the annual budget – so that the new workers and PEP officers truly are full-time, long-term staff additions.

The mayor and council have talked about the importance of community building and of lifting neighborhoods across the city – now's the time to tell them that adding more funding for parks would do just that.

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