NY4P in amNY: Park advocates demand Mayor Adams restore budget cuts to NYC Parks

Park advocates demand Mayor Adams restore budget cuts to NYC Parks

By Gabriele Holtermann

May 9, 2024

Led by New Yorkers for Parks (NY4P), the Play Fair for Parks coalition, comprised of over 400 park advocacy groups, held a rally in the North Plaza of Union Square Park in Manhattan on May 7, calling on the Adams administration to reverse the proposed budget cuts for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

Contrary to the Mayor’s campaign promise to allocate 1% of the city’s budget to the Parks Department, his administration has slashed the department’s already meager budget of 0.6% by $55 million for Fiscal Year 2025.

The Play Fair for Parks coalition wants the Mayor to restore the “devasting” cuts but also calls on him to uphold his campaign promise and allot 1% of the city’s budget to New Yorkers’ favorite outdoor gathering spaces.

Adam Ganser, executive director of NY4P, told amNYMetro that the Parks Department’s budget has been lingering at around 0.6% for the past 40 years.

“We used to get well over 1.4 % of the city budget,” Ganser explained. “This current budget is even more sort of baffling because it’s the highest budget in the city’s history, the overall city budget, and yet the mayor has cut the Parks Department yet again. So we’re below point 6%. It’s peanuts, pennies for parks.”

The Parks Department manages 1700 City parks, over 1000 playgrounds, 161 miles of waterfront and beaches, around 50 recreation centers, 65 pools, and over 2 million trees.

The number of park workers tackling the Herculean task of caring for New York City’s green spaces is already at a 5-year low. The budget cuts will result in the loss of over 600 additional park jobs.

Park advocates say that the drastic cuts will lead to unsafe parks and playgrounds, dirtier bathrooms, reduction in programs like swim lessons, fewer recreation center hours, un-mowed lawns, and untrimmed trees.

Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said the Mayor’s budget gave the impression that parks, park workers, and park maintenance and safety were expendable.

“We need these budget cuts to be reversed,” Tighe demanded. “Otherwise, this summer, we’re going to see a lot of trash and broken sprinklers and non-functioning bathrooms.”

Tighe pointed out that trees and parks were more than beautiful scenery.

“They improve air quality, they cool our communities, they absorb stormwater, they make them crucial to mitigating the growing impacts of climate change,” Tighe said.

Read the article online at amNY