Citywide independent parks advocacy organization urges City to protect parks during the COVID-19 pandemic, when New Yorkers need them most
New York, N.Y. (April 3, 2020) – New Yorkers for Parks has issued the following statement from Director of Outreach and Programs Emily Walker, calling on the City to advance all Fiscal Year 2020 discretionary funding to all parks organization recipients:
“We are deeply troubled to hear that parks conservancies and parks partner organizations are being told by the City to freeze spending and not use the remaining discretionary funding that they were allocated in the City’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget. New Yorkers across the city are seeking refuge in their parks as we grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is not the time to treat them as something we can do without.
With social distancing enforcement an added task on top of general maintenance, there are now even greater demands on not just New York City Department of Parks and Recreation staff, but also parks conservancies and parks partner organizations. They are being told to do more, with less than they were promised.
To make matters worse, there are currently 340 NYC Parks frontline staff positions that are set to expire on July 1. These positions were created last year because of the efforts of New Yorkers for Parks and the Play Fair Coalition, and they do the essential work of keeping parks safe and well-maintained. With some health experts now estimating that it won’t be safe to gather in large groups until the summer – peak park usage season – this is especially bad timing. Parks conservancies and partner organizations will be under yet another layer of pressure to fill the funding gap to make up for this lost staff.
We are calling on the City to advance all Fiscal Year 2020 discretionary funding to all parks organization recipients to be used for general operating support during this critical time. We are also calling on the City to baseline the 340 NYC Parks staff lines.
Once it is finally safe to be together in large groups again, New York City parks are going to be more in-demand than ever. The City needs to ensure that conservancies and parks partner organizations have the resources that they were promised, for the good of all New Yorkers.”