Mayoral Candidates Release Positions on NYC Parks as NY4P Hosts Advocate Rally at City Hall

Saturday, August 17, 2013

NY4P was joined by more than 100 park advocates from every borough and mayoral campaign representatives at a City Hall rally on August 15, where we called on mayoral candidates to make parks a priority.

“Calling parks a ‘quality of life’ issue “makes them seem non-essential,” Holly Leicht, Executive Director of NY4P, told the crowd. “I prefer to call them a ‘life issue.’  They…determine whether New York is a place we want to live, work and raise our families. Before we're asked to make a decision [about whom to vote for], we deserve to know where the candidates stand on critical life issues. What is their vision for our city, for our neighborhoods, for our parks?”

NY4P RallyWhile the funeral of political consultant Bill Lynch precluded mayoral candidates from attending the rally, the campaign of Christine C. Quinn was represented at the rally by New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, and John C. Liu’s campaign was represented by Policy Director Doug Giuliano. Other speakers included New York Restoration Project Executive Director Amy Freitag and New York City Community Gardens Coalition officer Karen Washington.

After advocates from parks and community gardens citywide called out in turn their #1 concern for the next administration to address, Leicht closed the rally by saying, “We need a leader who appreciates the vastness of our park system, and the importance of every one of [its 29,000] acres to all New Yorkers, in all neighborhoods. Someone who will dedicate the necessary resources to maintaining and improving our parks for today, and preserving and protecting them for generations to come.”

We asked the campaigns of mayoral candidates Sal Albanese, Adolfo Carrion, Jr., John A. Catsimatidis, Bill de Blasio, Joseph J. Lhota, Christine C. Quinn, William C. Thompson and Anthony D. Weiner to provide statements outlining their vision for NYC’s parks and open spaces.

Following are the statements we received, in alphabetical order:

Mr. Albanese:  "Anybody with basic common sense knows that great neighborhoods need great parks and open spaces. Unfortunately, local parks across the five boroughs are being underfunded and sold off for luxury development. That is why I'm proud to stand with New Yorkers for Parks and endorse their platform. To keep New York City great, we need to invest in our parks. As Mayor, I'll do just that."

Mr. Carrion, Jr.: “I support expanding upon Mayor Bloomberg’s vision of ensuring there is a park within a ten-minute walk of every person’s home.  We need to double-down on both Public Private Partnerships and community involvement to improve parks across all boroughs and underserved neighborhoods.  We need to reimagine what a park should be to include a place for fitness, recreation, events and even work - including free Wi-Fi hot spots - for residents in all parts of our city.”

Mr. de Blasio:  “The era of giving away prime land to commercial interests at bargain basement prices must come to an end.  For every well-maintained park in the city, there are so many more that are falling prey to neglect and encroachment, especially in the outer boroughs. We need a renewed commitment to restore and maintain world-class parks in every community."

Mr. Liu: “The residents of outer-borough, lower-income neighborhoods needs parks just as much, if not more, than residents of wealthy neighborhoods. As Mayor, I will ensure that our parks and open spaces receive the funding that they need to serve all of our residents. I will start with the great ideas in the New Yorkers for Parks platform to create equity in open space across the city.”

Ms. Quinn:  "If we're going to keep New York City a place for the middle-class and everyone working to get there, we need to make sure all New Yorkers have access to open and recreational space.  As Mayor I’ll work to distribute park resources equitably so that every neighborhood has access to safe, quality spaces; create a new land trust for community gardens; and direct city agencies to make open space a real priority in their projects.  And New Yorkers know I can deliver, because that's what I've done as Speaker – funding repairs to hundreds of parks and playgrounds in all five boroughs, helping secure critical protections for our community gardens, and passing a law to create a database of city-owned vacant property to determine whether it can be used for open space."

Mr. Thompson:  "I know that a greener city means we can have a greater city. By investing in programs and supporting good policies that foster sustainability for our parks and protect the environment, together we will ensure New York City's future for generations to come. I commend New Yorkers for Parks on their efforts to bring more focus on both the need to ensure more transparency for park funding, as well as ensuring that every park, regardless of neighborhood receives adequate maintenance to create clean, safe and sustainable parks."

The rally was part of a five-month campaign by NY4P , during which we shaped our ten-point Parks Platform 2013 at an April town hall with more than 100 parks advocates, and met with community boards and residents in all five boroughs, as well as almost every mayoral campaign team. The Platform has been endorsed by 14 New York City Council Members, 16 community boards, a host of open space and civic organizations, and hundreds of New Yorkers.

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