Release: ‘Five Point Plan for Park Equity’ and 2021 Open Space Profiles

New Yorkers for Parks Releases ‘Five Point Plan for Park Equity’ Calling on the Next Mayor, City Council to Realize New Era for Parks and Open Space in NYC

NY4P’s 2021 Open Space Profiles database, a citywide analysis of parks and open space access, reveals stark racial disparities, with majority Black, Latinx, and Asian neighborhoods disproportionately underserved across five boroughs

NY4P and 300+ Play Fair Coalition to host April mayoral candidate forum highlighting the urgency of bold vision for parks on the campaign trail

April 1, 2021 (New York, NY) – New Yorkers for Parks, the only independent non-profit championing quality open space for all New Yorkers, released a platform today calling on New York City’s elected officials to advance a set of bold policy actions in creating an equitable 21st century parks and open space system that better serves every community across the five boroughs and supports the City’s green recovery.

The group’s ‘Five Point Plan for Park Equity’ platform calls on New York’s next mayor and City Council to do more than the bare minimum of reinvesting in the Parks Department—which suffered an $80 million budget cut last year. It urges the City to increase parks investment, develop a five-borough open space plan, address disparities in park access based on race and income, overhaul the capital process to deliver parks improvements, create new parks across the city, and invest in the maintenance of natural areas and waterfronts.

“This is a pivotal moment for NYC’s parks system. Last year, just as New Yorkers turned out in record numbers, the City disinvested $80 million in the Parks Department and citywide park conditions reached a low point. We need a new vision for a new era of parks in our city,” said Adam Ganser, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks. “Now is the time to prioritize these open spaces as the essential infrastructure they are not only for our quality of life and environmental resilience, but as drivers of New York’s economic recovery. Every New Yorker deserves access to quality parks and green space, but we have a long way to go to achieve that goal.” 

The ‘Five Point Plan for Park Equity’ Platform

The five core policy tenets of the Five Point Plan for Park Equity platform include: 

  • Comprehensive Parks & Open Space Plan that prioritizes a cross-agency open space vision focusing on parks, access, climate resiliency, equitable economic development, and open space equity. The Plan also calls to create a Director of the Public Realm.
  • Commit One Percent of the City’s Budget for Parks maintenance and operations, like other top US cities that dedicate up to two percent of their budgets for safe, clean, and accessible parks, and identify alternative public funding models. 
  • Build More Parks and Open Space in under-resourced communities where they are needed so there is equitable access for all New Yorkers, invest in comprehensive environmental plans for the City’s existing natural areas, and commit to creative proposals including greenways and Open Streets.
  • Fix the Capital Improvement Process by reforming the citywide procurement process for faster, cheaper building of parks and giving NYC Parks a flexible capital budget.
  • Empower Communities by championing and indemnifying our not-for-profit partners and volunteer stewardship groups and facilitating programs that enhance access to resources in parks and open spaces.

Black, Latinx, and Asian Neighborhoods Lack Equal Access to Parks and Open Space

In addition to straining critical citywide park maintenance and operations, the pandemic deepened stark inequities in access across majority Black, Latinx, and Asian neighborhoods in the five boroughs. 

Underpinning New Yorkers for Parks’ Five Point platform is the nonprofit’s 2021 Open Space Profiles, a comprehensive citywide analysis of parkland across each of the city’s 59 community districts. The data confirms not only that neighborhoods of color are underserved, but that citywide the vast majority of districts lack a sufficient amount of open spaces. 

Highlights from the data include: 

  • 33% of New Yorkers do not have a park within a five minute walk.
  • 48 of 59 districts have less than 10 percent of city-owned parkland within their district.
  • 12 of the 20 districts with the least amount of parkland are districts with a majority people of color – there is a severe lack of equitable access to open spaces across the city.

Majority-white communities are not universally well-resourced for public space. Community district 12 in Brooklyn, for example, comprising Borough Park, Kensington, Ocean Parkway and Midwood, has a 70 percent white population and just one percent parkland. 

Mayoral Forums on Parks: A New Vision from NYC’s Next Mayor 

On April 19, the Play Fair Coalition will host a mayoral forum in partnership with New York Law School to discuss policy recommendations for the future of City parks and open spaces.


About New Yorkers for Parks

For over 100 years, New Yorkers for Parks (NY4P) has built, protected, and promoted parks and open spaces in New York City. Today, NY4P is the citywide independent organization championing quality parks and open spaces for all New Yorkers in all neighborhoods.

About Play Fair Coalition 

Play Fair is a multiyear campaign to improve the quality of New York City parks, address climate change, and create green jobs. The Coalition includes more than 300 parks, transportation, environment, social justice, infrastructure advocates from across the five boroughs. In 2019, the Play Fair Coalition secured a historic $44 million increase in the expense budget of NYC Parks, the largest funding increase in nearly three decades. Last year, despite unprecedented challenges, the Coalition's campaigning in-person, by phone and email, and on Zoom resulted in 300 secured jobs for NYC Parks workers.