Parks and Rec budget cuts are hitting home
September 24, 2020
By Michael Gannon
Late last month, Councilman Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) toured Detective Keith L. Williams Park in Jamaica with Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee, and Adam Ganser, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks, to discuss the state of neglect that seems to have come over green spaces in Queens. A video showed sections of the park suffering from a lack of maintenance, including overgrown grass and shrubs, and litter.
The Departments of Parks and Recreation and Sanitation have been hit as hard as anyone by the budget ax that fell before the new spending plan was passed in June. But one of the green spaces on Miller’s to-do list — St. Albans Park Athletic Field on Merrick Boulevard — got some touching up last weekend.
Photos taken by the Chronicle on Sept. 15 showed litter overflowing from a basket near the baseball field backstop. Grass and weeds looked as if they had not been cut in weeks or months. But a statement from Parks last Friday, sent after the agency was shown one of the pictures, said at least some basic maintenance was on the way to St. Albans.
“We are working tirelessly throughout Queens to provide routine maintenance to keep our parks beautiful, including our ballfields,” the department said in an email. “This year, because of the impacts of the ongoing public health crisis we were unable to do our normal ballfield preparation in the spring, but we have been doing landscaping and mowing the lawns throughout the borough as able.
“We will deploy a team to make targeted landscape improvements at St. Albans Park Athletic Field this weekend.”
That was done as promised, though an aide to Miller pointed out afterward that the site remained a bit sloppy, with cut grass left lying in the street.
Parks’ $503 million budget for this fiscal year marked an $84 million reduction, officials say. The cut has resulted in 1,700 fewer seasonal maintenance and operations workers, including nearly 450 in Queens.