Play Fair Coalition Applauds Parks Funding in FY22 Budget As Crucial First Step Toward Equitable Open Space Policy in NYC
Restoration of $80 million for NYC Parks Department after crippling 14% budget cut in 2020 will provide essential resources for the agency as park usage continues at record levels
July 6, 2021 (New York, NY) – Co-founders of the Play Fair Coalition Adam Ganser, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks, Council Member Peter Koo, Chair of the Council Committee on Parks and Recreation, Henry Garrido, Executive Director, District Council 37 and Julie Tighe, President of New York League of Conservation Voters, released the following statement in response to the New York City fiscal year 2022 budget:
“Given the importance of parks and open spaces for New Yorkers’ wellbeing over the last year, we applaud Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson, and the City Council for listening to the thousands of residents who joined the Play Fair Coalition to demand more funding for the NYC Parks Department after last year’s devastating cuts. We’re relieved to see $80 million funding restored for the critical maintenance and operations of New York City parks, and we’re especially grateful to see all of the Play Fair Coalition’s priorities funded for the new fiscal year.
New Yorkers saw what can happen when parks are not fully funded as our parks workers were asked to do more with less and our shared parks and open spaces deteriorated without proper investment. Restoration of the parks budget is a critical first step for our recovery and will help keep our parks safe, clean, and accessible. Now we must dedicate ourselves to reversing decades of underinvestment and commit to prioritizing parks as critical infrastructure in New York. And as we experienced the last two weeks during heatwaves, which will only happen more frequently due to the climate crisis, New Yorkers see firsthand the importance of equitable access to open spaces that provide respite.
Even with the parks budget restored and the largest budget ever adopted by the city, funding for parks—which make up 14 percent of the city’s landscape—only makes up 0.6 percent of the city budget. We remain confident that our next mayor and Council will fully dedicate 1 percent of the budget to NYC Parks so that New Yorkers can finally secure the equitable, 21st-century parks system they deserve.”
Now in its third year, the Play Fair Coalition includes more than 300 parks, community gardens, environment, recreation, youth development, and social justice organizations from across the five boroughs.
The City’s FY22 budget adopts all of the Play Fair Coalition’s priorities in its FY22 budget platform. The budget includes: $10 million for parks 100 parks workers and 50 gardeners; $6 million for 80 Parks Enforcement Patrol officers to ensure our parks are safe; $3 million for 50 Urban Park Rangers to connect New Yorkers with the nature that surrounds us; $30 million for critical seasonal staff of maintenance and operations workers citywide; $4.7 million to support the Parks Equity Initiative and park stewardship organizations citywide; and funding for our natural areas and community gardens.
About Play Fair Coalition
Play Fair is a multiyear campaign to improve the quality of New York City parks, address climate change, and create green jobs. The Coalition includes more than 300 parks, transportation, environment, social justice, infrastructure advocates from across the five boroughs. In 2019, the Play Fair Coalition secured a historic $44 million increase in the expense budget of NYC Parks, the largest funding increase in nearly three decades. Last year, despite unprecedented challenges, the Coalition's campaigning in-person, by phone and email, and on Zoom resulted in 300 secured jobs for NYC Parks workers.