Press Release: Coalition Calls on Mayor to Increase Park Funding After New Report


New York City’s Ranking Consistently Decreases Over Time,Lags Behind Other U.S. Cities in Funding  


CONTACT: Megan Douglas 212-838-9410 ex.310 /  

May 22, 2019 (New York, NY) - Following today’s release of The Trust for Public Land’s annual ParkScore report, the Play Fair Coalition is calling on the mayor to increase funding for the New York City Parks Department. NYC’s ranking has dropped significantly from a high of #2 in 2013 and 2014, to the ninth spot for the past two years. New York City also lags far behind other major U.S. cities in funding, which the Coalition cites in their call for increased maintenance funding for the Parks Department.  

The Coalition is made up of over 120 organizations supporting Play Fair, a multi-year campaign founded by New Yorkers for Parks, New York League of Conservation Voters, and District Council 37. In its first year, Play Fair is calling on the City to increase maintenance funding for the Parks Department by $100 million. $100 million is equal to just 0.10% of the mayor’s $92 billion Executive Budget, but this modest increase would give parks of all sizes permanent, full time staff; help protect NYC’s forests from climate change; increase parks security; fund improvements for every NYC Parks community garden in the city; and create permanent jobs for hard-working New Yorkers. The campaign has the support of a supermajority of New York City Council Members.  

In its ParkScore report, The Trust for Public Land finds that New York City spends $198 per capita on parks, whereas Washington, D.C., which currently holds the top spot, spends $270 per resident. San Francisco spends a whopping $318 per resident, and Minneapolis $299 per resident. New York City is eleventh in spending and even falls behind some cities that aren’t in the top ten, such as Seattle, St. Louis, Plano, TX, and Long Beach, CA.  

New York City’s ParkScore ranking has dropped steadily since it first began in 2012, and funding is one of the primary factors that influences a city’s score. The city’s all-time high was the number two spot in 2013 and 2014, dropping to fifth place in 2015, seventh in 2016, and has been in ninth place for the past two years in a row.  

“It’s no coincidence that New York City is consistently falling behind other cities with better-funded parks systems,” said Lynn Kelly, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks. “In our decades of working with communities across the city, they consistently tell us about the conditions they face in their parks including overflowing trash cans, broken play equipment, shuttered bathrooms and more. None of these problems can be fixed without increased funding. It’s time for the mayor to do the right thing for these communities and provide our parks system with adequate funding.”  

New Yorkers for Parks has consistently called on City Hall to increase funding for parks. While parks across the City are suffering from neglect and disrepair, for the past five years New Yorkers for Parks has had to call on the Administration to baseline, or provide permanent funding for, 150 parks workers and gardener positions that are currently temporary. Every year the people in these positions, who do essential work maintaining our open spaces, have to wonder if they will still have a job the following year. The Coalition believes that the state of New York City’s parks makes it clear that our system needs more maintenance workers, not less. Yet there is no permanent funding for these positions in the mayor’s FY19 Executive Budget, and once again these jobs are at risk.  

Parkland comprises 14% of all City land, but the Parks Department received only 0.59% of the City budget in FY19. The last time Parks received at least one percent of the City’s budget was in the 1970s.  

In its 8th year, ParkScore rankings are based on the things that make park systems great: park access, park acreage, amenities like playgrounds and basketball courts, and funding that’s needed to create new parks and maintain existing ones. Compiled by The Trust for Public Land, which has been working for nearly fifty years across the country, ParkScore is a tool that local leaders can use to determine where parks are needed most urgently. And, local residents can use ParkScore to advocate for parks and hold their leaders accountable for results. This year’s full rankings can be viewed here: 


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 our research, advocacy, and the Daffodil Project, we work with communities and elected officials to promote and preserve quality open space across the city. Learn more: or