PARKS COALITION RALLIES ON THE STEPS OF CITY HALL FOR MORE FUNDING FOR PARKS
Play Fair Coalition Calls on the Mayor to Improve Parks, Create Green Jobs, and Address Climate Change
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 14, 2019
CONTACT: Megan Douglas 212-838-9410 ex.310 / firstname.lastname@example.org
May 14, 2019 (New York, NY) - Today on the steps of City Hall over 50 New Yorkers stood with the Play Fair Coalition to demand more funding for NYC Parks, including founding members New Yorkers for Parks, District Council 37, and New York League of Conservation Voters. Play Fair is a new multiyear campaign to improve the quality of New York City parks, address climate change and create green jobs. The Coalition now includes over 120 organization members representing thousands of New Yorkers across all corners of the City.
The campaign, which will lead up to the Mayoral election in 2021, focuses on an increase of $100 million in the City Parks expense budget in its first year. 41 out of 51 Council Members have signed onto a letter to the Mayor in support of Play Fair to date.
Recognizing the essential role parks play in keeping New York City healthy, the City Council heeded the call of the Coalition and included many Play Fair asks in their Mayoral budget response, including making 150 park worker union jobs permanent; care and maintenance of forests; and funding to improve all NYC Parks community gardens, among others.
However, the Mayor included none of this in the Executive Budget. Councilmembers Costa Constantinides and Robert Holden joined the Play Fair Coalition on the steps of City Hall in calling on the Mayor to provide this essential funding.
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. While the $100 million in funding that the Play Fair Coalition is pushing for is just 0.10% of the Mayor’s recently-released $92 billion proposed budget, it would have a transformative effect on the City.
“New York City’s parks belong to all New Yorkers, which is why we’re excited to be joined by residents and councilmembers from across all boroughs in calling on the City to finally provide the funding they need,” said Lynn Kelly, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks. “Parks provide countless health, social and environmental benefits, and are critical urban infrastructure. It’s time for the City to start treating them as such. It’s time to Play Fair for parks.”
Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, "Parks are one of our city's most vital environmental assets. They collect stormwater runoff, remove carbon from the atmosphere, and combat the urban heat island effect. However, for too long, they have been overlooked as essential infrastructure for healthy neighborhoods. We are proud to join our Play Fair coalition founding members New Yorkers for Parks and DC 37 to reiterate our call for an additional $100 million in the city's budget to improve parks maintenance."
"More than ever, New Yorkers depend on our city parks to provide the sanctuary for recreation and relaxation.” said D.C. 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, who represents thousands of workers in the NYC Parks Department. “We must do everything we can to keep the parks safe and well-maintained in order to improve the quality of life in our communities. We urge Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to increase the City’s investment in our parks in this year’s budget, an investment that will generate valuable dividends for all us.”
“Well-maintained greenspaces are vital to having a healthy and sustainable city,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Environmental Protection Committee. “But we also need more resources to make sure our parks are in good shape. Many parks in New York City are the first line of defense against climate change, and $4 million of this allocation can be a down payment on resiliency measures to protect our city against climate threats. I’m proud to support the Play Fair campaign to give the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation the staff it deserves.”
“As a nonprofit partner that works with NYC Parks to restore and manage 10,000 acres of forests and wetlands – one third of our city’s park system – we urge Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Council to support and fund Play Fair,” said Sarah Charlop-Powers, Executive Director, Natural Areas Conservancy. “New York City’s natural areas, which are in every borough, are a critical resource. They clean our air and water, support thousands of plant and animal species, provide access to nature for our city’s children, and are crucial to combatting the impacts of climate change. Extreme heat is the deadliest impact of climate change in the U.S., and tree canopy is the most cost effective way to combat urban heat. In the Forest Management Framework for New York City that we created with NYC Parks, we have determined the investment our forests need in fiscal year 2020 and over the next 25 years. Funding Play Fair is a key step toward improving and protecting lives for current and future generations of New Yorkers.”
“Every year we go through the same tired process to protect the needed resources for vital operational expenses for our parks, including funding for over a hundred and fifty park employees and improvements to park infrastructure,” said Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the Committee on Health. “We need to baseline this funding and make a long term commitment to adequately cover operational costs at all our parks.”
"Girl Scouts love green spaces and they want to raise their voices to make sure they are accessible to everyone for generations to come," said Meridith Maskara, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater New York. "We’re calling for funding that will ensure all city parks—large and small, community gardens and wide open spaces—have the care and maintenance they need to continue to thrive. Because New Yorkers in ALL neighborhoods, in every corner of this city, deserve access to clean, beautiful, and safe green spaces to enjoy and connect with nature."
"Our parks, trees, community gardens, and green spaces make New York City more livable and resilient in the face of the climate crisis," said Emily Nobel Maxwell, New York City Program Director for The Nature Conservancy. "They are essential for public health and are the backbone of vibrant communities across the boroughs. In the face of climate change and growing inequity, we cannot afford to shortchange nature. The Nature Conservancy commends New York City Council for their leadership, and echoes Play Fair Coalition's request for an additional $100 million in the next budget to create green jobs, expand after-school programs, and keep our parks cleaner and safer for all to enjoy."
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: www.ny4p.org or www.playfair.nyc.
About DC 37:
District Council 37 is New York City's largest public employee union, represents 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/.
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. For more information, visit www.nylcv.org.