Amid Potential Layoff of 22,000 City Employees, Park and Open Space Coalition Calls on the City to Protect Jobs of Park Workers
Play Fair to de Blasio Administration: NYC Parks Has Already Sustained Drastic Cuts; Further Losses Would Hurt Low-Income, Communities of Color and those Most Affected by COVID-19
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(New York, NY) -- Today New Yorkers for Parks, the New York League of Conservation Voters, New York City Council Member and Chair of the Council Committee on Parks and Recreation Peter Koo, District Council 37, and the other 299 members of Play Fair Coalition issued the following statement in response to the potential layoff of up to 22,000 city employees on October 1, due to be announced by Mayor de Blasio on August 31 in an attempt to balance the city budget:
“In a time when parks and open space play an even more essential role in the health and safety of our city, we urge Mayor de Blasio to not make any cuts to NYC Parks staff. NYC Parks already sustained a drastic budget cut of 14% in June, the second highest of any city agency, resulting in the loss of more than 1,700 parks staff.
“As parks are one of the few safe outlets for New Yorkers grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, park use has increased across the city. Our open spaces are already showing the effects of reduced resources coupled with increased use. We are hearing reports from across the city of overflowing trash cans, overgrowth, fallen tree limbs and other poor conditions in open spaces citywide. Tropical storms and other extreme weather conditions threaten to further exacerbate these problems. Open spaces are an integral part of NYC’s climate resilience and allowing these spaces to fall into disrepair can further jeopardize the environmental health of our city.
“Not all communities have the resources to sustain conservancies that can attempt to fill the funding gap, and volunteers alone cannot and should not be expected to replace park workers. It is those parks that rely solely on public funding, often located in low-income and communities of color, many of which were hardest-hit by COVID-19, that will suffer the most.
“NYC Parks workers served New York City as essential workers from the beginning of the pandemic, and they remain as important as ever today. The City must protect the jobs of every single one of these essential employees.”
About New Yorkers for Parks:
For over 100 years New Yorkers for Parks has been the independent champion for quality parks and open space for all New Yorkers. Through research, advocacy, and the Daffodil Project, New Yorkers for Parks works with communities and elected officials to promote and preserve quality open space across the city. They are a founding member of Play Fair, a multiyear campaign to protect and create jobs, ensure open spaces receive essential maintenance and care, and provide equitable access to nature, particularly in light of the increased need for parks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more: www.ny4p.org or www.playfair.nyc
About The New York League of Conservation Voters:
The New York League of Conservation Voters is the only non-partisan, statewide environmental organization in New York that takes a pragmatic approach to fighting for clean water, healthy air, renewable energy, and open space. They are a founding member of Play Fair, a multiyear campaign to protect and create jobs, ensure open spaces receive essential maintenance and care, and provide equitable access to nature, particularly in light of the increased need for parks during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, visit www.nylcv.org
About New York City Council Member, Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Peter Koo:
Council Member Peter Koo, who represents the 20th City Council district in Queens, was elected to the council in November 2009. Council Member Koo has chaired the Council’s committee on parks and recreation since June 2019. For more information, visit https://council.nyc.gov/district-20/
About DC 37: District Council 37 is New York City's largest public employee union, representing 125,000 members and 50,000 retirees. DC 37 members help make New York City run by working in over 1,000 titles – everything from Accountants to Zookeepers, including thousands of NYC Parks workers such as City Park Workers, Gardeners, PEP officers, Urban Park Rangers, City Seasonal Aides, Associate Park Service Workers, Lifeguards, Lifeguard Supervisors, Climbers and Pruners, City Park Supervisors, and Motor Vehicle Operators. For more information, visit http://www.dc37.net/