NY4P is coming to your backyard to hear your ideas on how we can improve NYC parks! With the Mayoral & City Council elections right around the corner it’s time to gather our network and push for a better parks budget. Come meet our new Executive Director Lynn Kelly, get to know other park organizers from your borough, and together let's build momentum for better open space in NYC!
Light refreshments will be provided. Se habla Español.
Monday, January 30, 6:30pm to 8:30pm
The New York Hall of Science
Thursday, February 2, 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Monday, February 13, 6:30pm to 8:30pm
St. Francis College, Callahan Center
Wednesday, February 15, 6:30pm to 8:30pm
CUNY Grad Center
Monday, February 27, 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Bronx Lebanon Hospital, Murray Cohen Auditorium
We were deeply saddened by the December passing of Robert R. Douglass, the longtime chair of the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association and the founding chair of the Alliance for Downtown New York. Mr. Douglass was a key player in the revitalization of Downtown Manhattan, and played a pivotal role in the area’s recovery and revival after the attacks on September 11th. We were incredibly honored when his family chose our Daffodil Project as the recipient of memorial donations, and planted our bulbs in his honor. Every spring those daffodils will bloom in Bowling Green, brightening the community he was so dedicated to. We want to offer sincere thanks to his family and loved ones, whose generosity helps us bring the Daffodil Project to neighborhoods across New York City.
Make a donation to the NY4P Daffodil Project in memory of Robert Douglass.
Photo courtesy of Snug Harbor
I am very excited and honored to be at the helm at New Yorkers for Parks. I’ve only been here two weeks, and we’ve hit the ground running – we’re hosting a series of webinars to provide parks-lovers with the tools they need to improve their parks, and we’ll soon announce our next round of community meetings in each borough. I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow Parkies, and learning from you about the biggest issues facing our parks. We’re also gearing up for the next City budget and the Mayoral election, crafting park priorities based on the feedback we gather from you.
When I was considering this position with NY4P, it occurred to me that some of the most memorable moments of my life took place in parks across NYC: the first goal I scored with my soccer team on Miller Field in Staten Island; my first ride on the Cyclone; my college graduation in Washington Square Park; and finally running up that long, long hill in Prospect Park.
I’m sure all of you as New Yorkers have memories of parks that are equally significant. We love parks because they give us places to grow and celebrate, but also because we need them. Simply put, New York cannot be a great city if it does not have great parks.
We are in a critical time for open space in New York City. Development is happening at a rapid pace across the five boroughs, and tourism is at an all-time high – and that’s a good thing. Those industries keep jobs in New York and help ensure a robust economy. But for me, it underscores the need to ensure that NYC strikes the right balance between development and open space.
New Yorkers for Parks is going to continue pushing for quality parks and open space that serves the needs of all New Yorkers. We will keep working so that all New Yorkers live in healthy neighborhoods where they can thrive, so that future generations will also have fond memories and a deep connection to their parks.
I am very grateful for your support, and I look forward to working with you all,
The "How Can I Improve My Park?" webinar was recorded on Wednesday, December 21. You can watch it here, and read an overview what we covered in the webinar, below.
How Can I Improve My Park?
Did you know that everyday New Yorkers can influence the city to build new park amenities? One of the most common questions NY4P hears from residents is how they can make a difference in their neighborhood parks and playgrounds? There is money to be had from our elected officials for improvements and we want to help you navigate through the process of advocating for and hopefully acquiring this funding. Let’s get started!
What is the first step in solving a problem I see in my neighborhood park or playground?
The very first thing to do is determine what kind of problem you see in your park. Park problems generally fall into two categories.
Maintenance and Staff Issues
The first category-- maintenance and staff issues--are small repairs or improvements in how your park or playground is cared for. Some examples include: repairing broken benches or equipment; mowing lawns; pruning trees; cleaning comfort stations; more frequent trash pick-up. The funding to solve these types of problems comes from the city’s expense (or operating) budget. If these are the kinds of improvements you want to see, you’ll need to work with staff at NYC Parks and Partnerships for Parks. If you observe a problem of this nature that requires immediate attention (i.e. a broken tree limb or broken play equipment), we recommend you immediately report it to 3-1-1.
Large-scale Infrastructure Issues
The second category--large-scale infrastructure issues—require capital projects where something is built or major infrastructure improvements are made. Generally speaking, these projects must cost $35,000 or more – if the price tag is less than that, you’re probably looking at a maintenance and staff issue. Examples of capital projects include: installing new athletic fields or courts; getting new playground equipment; building a dog run; improving ADA accessibility; getting a new comfort station. The funding for these types of improvements comes from the city’s capital budget. If you would like to see a major capital project in your park or playground, you will need to work the staff at NYC Parks, Partnerships for Parks, and your local elected official to get funding.
Today’s post is going to focus on the second category, large-scale infrastructure issues, and how to advocate for funding for a capital project. Where to begin?
The first step to seeing an improvement of any kind is to start building a coalition of neighbors and park users who also want to see change in their park. You will want to reach out to Partnerships for Parks to identify your local Outreach Coordinator. The team of Outreach Coordinators can help you identify any existing park and community groups in your neighborhood as well as provide assistance in building a group from the ground up. Since your ultimate goal in this process is to secure funding from your local officials, you want to build up a diverse network of support that shows your council member of borough president that your idea has traction amongst a number of constituents.
How do I build a coalition?
Reach out to local business, identify pre-existing civic organizations, stop by your local community center or church and try to engage park/playground users directly. As you build a network, listen to others to get ideas about how to improve your park. Plan together what your park needs and how to get it. As you move through the process of advocating for funding, you want to keep your new partners engaged with your efforts. If you write a letter to your council member, get lots of signatures. If you attend a Community Board meeting, invite as many supporters as possible. Sign petitions, hold rallies, make posters to circulate in your neighborhood. There is real strength in numbers.
We’ve got a coalition, now how do we get support from elected officials?
When advocating for discretionary funding from elected officials—City Councilmembers and Borough Presidents—you want to remember a few things.
You also will want to bring a few things to meeting with public officials:
*Data & Facts
NY4P has a range of research tools that can help New Yorkers from every neighborhood build a case for improved open space. Our 2015 City Council District Profiles provide comprehensive information about open space resources, including a district map of all public open spaces and other quality of life measures, such as health and socioeconomic statistics. Our Report Card series provides maintenance data for various kinds of open spaces in NYC, from large parks (20-500 acres), neighborhood parks (1-20 acres), and beaches. Our Open Space Index series provides neighborhood-level data of open space provision and demographic data at a deeper level than our City Council District Profiles – if you reside in one of the neighborhoods we have surveyed, this report can be a great jumping off point for discussing your neighborhood’s needs. All of our research tools are completed with an aim to help you build the case for the park improvements you want to see!
Now, how do I get a meeting with public officials? And who exactly do I want to meet with?
To successfully complete your capital project, you need both support and funding.
Support: The following officials can’t give you money, but you need their support to get your project built
Funding: The following officials can fund your project because they have access to discretionary funding to give out each year to projects and organizations in their community.
As previously mentioned, a good first point of contact is the Outreach Coordinator at Partnerships for Parks. They can help initiate contact with key Parks Department staff, such as your Park Manager and Borough Commissioner. Your Borough Commissioner and their staff can help you understand the feasibility of your proposed improvement, and can help give you a sense of the cost of the improvement – without a sense of cost, it will be difficult to get the funding you need from your elected officials. You want to call/email your Borough Commissioner’s office to request a meeting.
The second important support group is your local CB. Community Boards represent every New York neighborhood, and while they don’t have funding to give, they can play a powerful role in helping to convince your elected officials that your project should get funding. It is critical to work with the District Manager for your local Community Board, as well the dedicated Parks Committee of the Board. Your ultimate goal with the Community Board is to get your project listed on the Budget Priorities List for the district, an exercise that takes place every year. You want to call/email your local CB, introduce yourself, your coalitions and your issue. Request to be added to the agenda for an upcoming Parks Committee meeting. Once you’re on an agenda, prepare a brief (2-3min) presentation. After, you’ll want to ask for a follow-up meeting and seek a letter of support you can take to other elected officials.
In the late spring, summer, and early fall months, your local CB will start to generate the final version of its District Budget Priorities list – there are 40 projects in every district that get added to the final list, and your goal is to get your project listed. Bring your coalition members along to CB hearings and meetings where the District Priorities list is being discussed – the more community members who turn out in support of an issue, the more likely it is to make it on the final list. The reason this is such an important step is because the final version of the District Budget Priorities list directly influences the City Council, Borough President, and Mayor’s office as it creates a budget for the next fiscal year.
The City Council passes laws and approves the city budget. Each City Council member also has funds from the city to give to local projects. Your goal is to get a meeting with a City Council Member to request discretionary funding. Write a formal letter to introduce your issue, make the follow-up call to ask for the in-person meeting, and bring along all of the information and supporting documentation of we listed above. In addition to requesting discretionary capital funds toward your project, you also want their help getting the project on the Borough Statement of Budget Priorities.
Follow the same steps with your Borough President as you would your City Council Member. Write an introductory letter, request a meeting, make a case for your project and ultimately ask for discretionary funding and to be added to the Borough Statement of Budget Priorities.
Now, let’s talk about a general timeframe. How long is this all expected to take?
Generally speaking, the first version of the city budget, which is called the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget, gets released in late January. This means you should plan on reaching out to the staff at your elected officials’ offices at the beginning of the calendar year to remind them about your project. When the first iteration of the budget is released, the City Council then has about two months to hold hearings for every agency about its budget. Specific capital projects generally aren’t discussed at these hearings, but know that your Councilmember and Borough President are working with their staff during this time to come up with the list of capital projects they would like to fund. After the Council holds hearings, the city releases a second round of the budget in April, known as the Executive Budget. This version contains Council priorities in addition to Mayoral ones. From there, the Mayor’s office and the City Council work together to negotiate the final Adopted Budget, which must be agreed upon by the end of June every year. Usually, this version of the budget is finalized in early June, so keep an eye out for news reports about it. This is your cue to reach out to your elected official’s staff to see if your project received funding. Hopefully, the answer is yes!
Three Possible Outcomes
Year One: Build your coalition! Meeting neighbors, reach out to local businesses and institutions, and reach out to your Partnerships for Parks Outreach Coordinator.
Year Two: You and your coalition should start attending community events and meeting with public officials to introduce your project – start meeting with the Community Board, your Councilmember and their staff, the Parks Department, and your Borough President.
Years Three and Four (and maybe Five!): This is when you start to keep building the case for your project to receive funding. Remember, it often takes at least two years for all of the funding to get allocated!
Years Five, Six, and Seven: Assuming your project gets the funding it needs, you should expect that capital construction process to take at least three years before it’s finished. This might seem like a long time, but this is fairly average for a new park project. Stay engaged, and stay patient! Making change isn’t an overnight process.
An immediate step you can take is to gather the contact information of key players in the journey to capital funding. We recommend you keep a running list of local Community Boards, Councilmembers, Borough Presidents, and Partnerships for Parks Outreach Coordinators. Having their phone numbers listed in one, easily accessible place for you and your coalition members will make the process a little smoother.
If you have any questions about how to improve your park or playground, please contact New Yorkers for Parks. Our Outreach & Programming team is here to help!
Emily Walker- Director of Outreach and Programs
212-838-9410 ext. 314 Ewalker@ny4p.org
Laura Montross- Outreach Coordinator
212-838-9410 ext. 303 Lmontross@ny4p.org
If you've found this information useful, please support our work.
By Tasmia Anika, Communications Intern
2016 Daffodil Project by the Numbers:
The Daffodil Project completed another successful year as 500,000 bulbs were planted by New Yorkers citywide in 2016.The essence of this volunteer effort is as robust as ever as we continue to commemorate the lives lost on 9/11 and the revitalization of our beautiful city. Our most enthusiastic volunteers are often the smallest - for years New York City schoolchildren across the five boroughs have participated in the Daffodil Project, acting as caretakers of their schools and playgrounds. In an age of technological innovation and increased screen time, a lack of exposure to green spaces hinders young people from experiencing one of life’s greatest joys: planting. New Yorkers for Parks changes that by inspiring youth to make their communities better and refresh their perspective toward parks.
This year nearly 200 schools across the city partook in this volunteer effort, receiving free bulbs from New Yorkers for Parks. The Daffodil Project uniquely introduces youth, particularly from low income communities, to neighborhood stewardship by encouraging them to enhance their schoolyards, parks and playgrounds with flowers. NY4P provides the daffodil bulbs, tools and supplies for students to engage and learn. For the majority of the students, this is their first opportunity to participate in beautifying nature and experiment with gardening.
The volunteer project encourages students to become more proactive and take pride in their surrounding communities. Whether it be picking up trash or planting daffodils, the young volunteers are given an opportunity to practice civic engagement and teamwork. NY4P hopes to engage students at a deeper level by pairing lessons in environmental education with recommended action steps. This goal is to strengthen the students’ understanding of nature's value, and spark the initiative to care for local green spaces .
In addition to school children, the groups who collaborate to make this project possible range from corporate partners to parks and gardening groups. In some ways the Daffodil Project is a reflection of what makes New York City special: diverse groups of people coming together, to make something beautiful grow.
If you appreciate what the Daffodil Project does for NYC, please support our support our work.
We are excited to announce the release of New Yorkers for Parks’ 2016 Report Card on Parks: Spotlight on the Community Parks Initiative. The new Report Card provides community groups, park users and other stakeholders with an independent, comparative assessment of how neighborhood parks located within areas of the city targeted by NYC Parks’ Community Parks Initiative are performing. CPI addresses park equity by outlining 55 densely populated high-needs areas, and identifying 60 parks in those areas for reconstruction.
The Report Card analyzed parks that are larger in size than the 60 parks that CPI will reconstruct. These parks really strengthen a community, providing spaces for active play, sports, and family gatherings, as well as places to be quiet, contemplative, and connected to the natural world all at once. The Report Card found that many of these parks also in need of real renewal and reconstruction. It’s not a surprise that many parks in these growing, high-needs areas aren’t serving their communities well because they’re under-maintained, with aging infrastructure. Parks that had been constructed or renovated recently scored higher than their older counterparts.
When parks like the Lower East Side’s Sara D. Roosevelt Park receive low scores, it’s clear that there’s a mismatch between this park’s popularity, and the attention it’s getting for daily maintenance and long-term reconstruction. Our neighborhood parks citywide, and especially in the CPI priority zones, should be thriving.
New Yorkers for Parks produces its Report Cards on Parks series on an ongoing basis to ensure that there is transparency, accountability, public awareness, and efficient deployment of resources throughout the park system.
We want to congratulate Mayor de Blasio, Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, Open Space Alliance of North Brooklyn, Council Member Steven Levin, Assembly Member Joe Lentol, and Adam Perlmutter, Chairman of the Board of OSA, on the city’s purchase of the last parcel of land needed to complete Bushwick Inlet Park. This is a huge victory for these advocates who have worked tirelessly to make it happen, and for the surrounding communities who can now finally look forward to getting the park they need. It’s fabulous to see the Mayor show that when New York City government makes a promise, they keep it.
New Yorkers for Parks was very pleased to be involved throughout the process of fighting for the completion of the park. As the citywide champion of parks and open space, this work is an essential part of who we are and what we do. We wrote letters to elected officials calling for the completion of the park, we added our name to letters sent by the Open Space Alliance, and attended rallies and other events. We are very pleased that the voices of all the dedicated advocates involved were heard by the city, to the benefit of North Brooklyn’s communities.