Working for a Fuller Parks Budget From City Hall

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March 25, 2015
As budget season begins, the Department of Parks and Recreation needs more operating support to keep parks in good shape, and more funding for studies and capital projects in the midsize parks that anchor our neighborhoods.  At a City Council Parks Committee hearing on March 9, Executive Director Tupper Thomas gave this testimony outlining what we plan to advocate as the budget process moves forward.

Improving Transparency in Conservancy Funding

Friday, January 30, 2015

The New York City Council seeks more thorough reporting on how private conservancies help the public park system thrive. We've made the case for more data sharing and data analysis, across conservancy-aided parks and other parks, to get at the true cost of making parks surpass expectations. Tupper Thomas gave this testimony on the issue at a January 29 hearing. 

Welcoming Innovation on the Hudson River Waterfront

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
The Hudson River Park Trust's proposal for Pier55 combines culture, recreation and landscape in a pioneering waterfront design. We've spoken out in support of the proposal in the public review process, with special respect to its well-funded maintenance plan. Click here to see Executive Director Tupper Thomas' testimony at Community Board 2's January 7 hearing. 

Speaking Up for 10,000 Quiet Acres

Wednesday, December 17, 2014
What's the right way to invest in centuries-old forests and marsh that can protect us in a changing city? Executive Director Tupper Thomas weighed in on the question at the City Council Parks and Recreation Committee's first-ever hearing on funding the Natural Areas Conservancy and related projects. Read Tupper's testimony here. 

Highlights from the 2014 Daffodil Project

Thursday, November 20, 2014

NY4P youth planting at P.S. 21 in Staten Island

As winter approaches, we are completing our planting season for this year’s Daffodil Project. This was one of the biggest years in the Project’s history, thanks in large part to the over 875 individuals and civic organizations who planted our bulbs. In total, we distributed 560,000 bulbs to be planted in all corners of New York City. We continued our efforts in neighborhoods still recovering from Sandy, and Roger Clark from NY1 and NY1 Noticias joined our school planting at PS 104 in Far Rockaway on the storm's two-year anniversary. 

We began a new partnership with the Trust for Public Land Schoolyards to Playgrounds program, and continued our partnerships with NYCParks, the Horticultural Society of New York, the New York City Housing Authority, Grow to Learn, Penny Harvest, and the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance. Over 240 schools received bulbs, and volunteers reported that they would be planting bulbs with over 25,000 kids throughout the five boroughs. New York City will bloom brightly this spring thanks to the efforts of everyone who planted bulbs this fall.

Urging NYC to Build on Park Equity Promise

Thursday, November 20, 2014
At the November 5 City Council Parks Committee hearing on the Community Parks Initiative (CPI), Executive Director Tupper Thomas praised the City’s plan to address capital and maintenance needs in many small neighborhood parks. NY4P also called on the City Council to build on this progress with stronger baseline funding for park maintenance and staffing, as well as overall improvements to more City parks, especially midsize ones. Read our testimony here.

Finding New Paths to Park Funding

Thursday, November 20, 2014
On November 6, with the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund and NYU Wagner’s Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems, we convened experts and advocates to discuss new ways to finance parks in front of a standing-room-only audience, including Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver. Board member Chris Rizzo, who practices land-use law at Carter Ledyard & Millburn, kicked things off with a white paper outlining inventive paths to steady park funding. NY4P is eager to continue moving forward with new ideas for the City to creatively fund parks. 

New Yorkers for Parks Statement on Community Parks Initiative

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Ranaqua Playground, Mott Haven, Bronx

NEW YORK, NY – The following is a statement from New Yorkers for Parks Executive Director Tupper Thomas:

“With today’s significant investment in neighborhood parks, the de Blasio administration and City Council have made a strong commitment to building a better park system for all New Yorkers.

The Community Parks Initiative is smart parks policy that takes the long view. It starts with a number of well-targeted capital projects in high-need areas, and delivers a sustained investment in those areas, from maintenance funding to programming, to stewardship cultivation. The Initiative will begin the long-term task of rebuilding the city's neighborhood parks and playgrounds. It isn’t just a quick fix: the program lays the groundwork for community building in many areas of the city that need it most.

“Addressing park equity issues has long been at the heart of New Yorkers for Parks’ research and advocacy, so it is particularly gratifying to see many of the policies for which we have advocated – a Parks Department capital budget allocated more in accordance with need, and dedicated maintenance funding to accompany that capital budget – being implemented by the mayor today. The City Council, led by Speaker Mark-Viverito and Parks Chairman Levine, deserves credit, too, for securing funding through the budget process for much of the Community Parks Initiative’s maintenance component.

“There are, of course, alternate ways to fund parks, and we look forward to working with the administration and Council to explore thoughtful, productive measures to bolster public spending. But the key to addressing park equity issues has always been meaningful public-sector investment, and that’s exactly what the mayor and Council have delivered.” 

NY4P Appoints Emily Walker as Director of Outreach and Programs

Friday, September 12, 2014

We’re pleased to announce the appointment of Emily Walker as our new Director of Outreach and Programs. Emily has been with NY4P since April of 2012, and previously served as our Community Outreach and Events Coordinator. Many of you may know Emily through our annual Daffodil Project, which she has overseen since starting at NY4P. Under her leadership, the Project has reached record numbers of New Yorkers and forged many new partnerships. Prior to starting at NY4P, Emily worked for Tom Hayden in Los Angeles, where she assisted with research and helped oversee the incorporation of The Peace and Justice Resource Center, a 501(c)3 organization.

Emily is eager to expand NY4P’s outreach initiatives throughout the five boroughs. With the de Blasio administration’s new focus on park equity, NY4P will be working to grow our outreach staff and programs, and we are thrilled to have Emily continuing her work with us in this capacity.

How Can I Improve My Park? New Poster Shows Advocates the Way

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It’s a familiar complaint among even the most ardent park lovers in New York City: navigating the road toward effective park advocacy is just too confusing.

But now, through a collaboration of New Yorkers for Parks, the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) and Partnerships for Parks (PfP) there is a guide aimed at lifting that fog: “How Can I Improve My Park?”

The fold-out poster, which features engaging design by Elana Schlenker and colorful illustration by Brooklyn artist Leslie Wood, is designed to help advocates cut through the often-onerous process of advocating for park improvements – from maintenance concerns like litter, broken benches or overgrown grass, to capital projects, like a new dog run or playground, increased signage or better wheelchair access.

Download the full poster here.

“Park advocates contact us all the time to ask: ‘where do I start?’” said Tupper Thomas, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks. “It’s a complex process, so we wanted to create a guide that eliminates any of that confusion and makes the process much smoother for those who know their local parks best but may not know how to navigate the city’s budget process. This poster will really empower park advocates from across New York City to make a difference in their communities.”

“This issue of Making Policy Public will make it easier for people, regardless of their backgrounds, to advocate for improvements to their local parks,” said CUP Executive Director Christine Gaspar. “We developed the poster with a focus on reaching underserved communities, who often have less access to resources. As with all CUP projects, this poster breaks down a complex process into a step-by-step guide to meaningful participation.”

"Partnerships for Parks is dedicated to sharing information and opportunities so people can effectively participate in the care and planning of their neighborhood parks and green spaces," said Sabina Saragoussi, Director of Partnerships for Parks. "This publication is an important part of empowering New Yorkers to have a meaningful impact."

“How Can I Improve My Park” was produced after soliciting extensive feedback from park advocates, and those who know the ins and outs of the park advocacy process at each step: community board members, borough president and Council staffers, and Parks Department officials.

In particular, the poster addresses several of the common concerns among park advocates: whom to contact about an issue or desired project, and when. It neatly lays out a course of action – from coalition building and letter-writing, to community board presentations and meetings with public officials. It also clearly describes the difference between advocating for a capital project and a maintenance or staffing issue.

New Yorkers for Parks, CUP and PfP will distribute posters at a free Partnerships Academy Workshop launch event for advocates on July 24 at the Parks Department’s Arsenal headquarters. Speakers at the event will include NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, New York City Council Parks Committee Chair Mark Levine, NYC Parks Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh, and NY4P Executive Director Tupper Thomas. Partnerships Academy is a training program of Partnerships for Parks that supports community-based park groups and individuals to achieve success.

The project is part of CUP’s Making Policy Public initiative, which features foldout posters that use graphic design to explore and explain public policy. Making Policy Public is published four times a year. Each poster is the product of a collaboration of a designer, an advocate, and CUP.

Additionally, the poster complements, an online toolkit developed by Partnerships for Parks and Hester Street Collaborative to help community members understand and participate in the NYC Parks capital process.

Support for “How Can I Improve my Park?” was provided by the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Surdna Foundation, A Blade of Grass, and the North Star Fund, and public funding was provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.

To order a free hard copy, contact Emily Walker, NY4P's Outreach & Events Coordinator, at or 212-838-9410, extension 314.