We Respond to the Mayor's Budget

Friday, May 22, 2015
New Yorkers for Parks has analyzed the mayor's executive budget. We applaud the $151 million intended for the Community Parks Initiative, which can help improve many playgrounds over time and sustain the citywide conversation about park equity.  The new capital initiative, Parks without Borders, can also create exciting changes to many open spaces. We also welcome the $5 million base-lined for 80 new PEP officers citywide, and $6 million for street and park tree pruning and care. But we see major gaps in funding that would provide for cleaner, safer parks and gardens citywide. For around $65 million, less than one percent of the total budget, the city can make good on its pledge to advance the larger park equity goal this year. Here are our recommendations: 

  • Restore $8.7 million for full time gardeners and park maintenance workers, allowing NYC Parks to rely less on roving crews of temporary workers and more on a secure, permanent workforce.
  • Add $5.4 million for 200 new playground associates, who play an integral role in keeping parks and playgrounds safe and well-kept during the warm months when parks are busiest.
  • Add $5 million in capital funding and $1 million in expense funding to the GreenThumb program. At a time when the city’s community gardeners need assurance that the administration respects their contribution to our city’s health, a $1 million addition would increase outreach staff, who provide support and oversight of community gardens citywide. $5 million in capital would allow infrastructure improvements in gardens across the city, many of which are in high- need communities. These will help the gardens flourish as true community open spaces.
  • Restore the $750,000 added last year to hire additional community outreach staff through Partnerships for Parks.  These professionals create long-term engagement with community stakeholders in the parks that CPI has targeted. Their technical expertise is crucial now, with CPI’s first 35 playgrounds still in the design process, and not slated for completion until 2017.
  • Provide $500,000 for a master-planning process in at least four neighborhood parks, to intelligently prepare for future capital projects at these key sites.
  • Add $50 million in discretionary capital spending for sites that require action. Communities that have seen projects start based on local funding may see unanticipated costs to complete them,  and other communities may need new park projects. The Commissioner could use discretionary funding to manage contingencies, changes and critical new needs throughout the system.

We invite anyone who loves parks to join New Yorkers for Parks and Councilmember Mark Levine at a rally on the City Hall steps on May 27 at 11 a.m. For pennies on the dollar, the city can strategically invest in making public spaces clean, useful and safe- and in protecting the mayor’s equity agenda.  

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