NEW YORK, NY - On Tuesday October 6th, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver announced the continuation of the Community Parks Initiative, with a second phase of investment in underserved New York City parks. New Yorkers for Parks issued the following statement in response:
"New York City continues to make great strides towards an equitable park system with yesterday’s announcement. The Community Parks Initiative (CPI), which targets capital investment, programs, community outreach, and maintenance funds towards the neediest neighborhoods in the city, will expand to a second phase with this commitment from the de Blasio administration through NYC Parks, NYC Department of Environmental Protection, the City Council, and the City Parks Foundation. New Yorkers for Parks is thrilled to see that the City continues the commitment made in OneNYC to expand this program by continuing the funding for capital improvements and in-house repairs to more small parks in underserved CPI neighborhoods. The inclusion of DEP capital funds to this program will also make more of our neighborhoods sustainable and less prone to flooding.
Yet throughout the city, and even in the neighborhoods that are targeted for investment, there are hundreds of small and neighborhood-sized parks that do not have access to this robust funding for capital improvements. Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Silver must bring the funding and the community engagement process of CPI to all parks across our city that still have dire need of overall rejuvenation. The backlog for capital improvements is long and has to be aggressively addressed.
Most importantly, the Administration has not lived up to its most important commitment to CPI: maintenance funding for CPI zones. In FY 2015, the Mayor added $5 million on funding for park operations and the Council added $3 million. For FY 2016, the Council had to fund the entire $8 million.
This way of funding is not a long term commitment. The full $8 million should have been permanently added to the NYC Parks budget as part of the Mayor’s allocation, instead of depending on temporary, one-year Council money to fill the gap. It would create permanent budget lines for staff, not vulnerable annual positions. The capital work being done under CPI will take at least 3 years to accomplish from planning to completion, but the results of increased maintenance staffing could be seen immediately. 25 new targeted improvement sites will soon be named: that work will be done by existing NYC Parks staff, which is already stretched thin across the city’s more than 1,800 parks. We are glad that the Council supported additional staff for the year, but those positions must be made permanent. If we want to see “caring” for our parks as a reality, there needs to be enough staff to let the public know that NYC Parks cares!
We look forward to making this vision a reality with the partnership of NYC Parks, the dedicated support of the Council and the thousands of park users and advocates that work for this city’s open spaces."