Release: Play Fair Coalition and Councilmember Peter Koo Launch Second Year of Play Fair Campaign with a Digital Rally

Play Fair Coalition and Councilmember Peter Koo Launch Second Year of Play Fair Campaign with a Digital Rally 

Play Fair Coalition Calls on City to Increase City Parks Budget by $200 Million to Improve Parks, Create Jobs, Protect the Environment


CONTACT: Megan Douglas 347-925-0101 /


March 13, 2020 (New York, NY) – Originally planned as a rally on the steps of City Hall, on Friday, March 13 at 9 a.m., New York City Council Member and Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Peter Koo, New Yorkers for Parks, New York League of Conservation Voters, District Council 37, and other members of the Play Fair Coalition held a digital rally on Twitter to launch the 2020 Play Fair campaign, with videos of Coalition members calling on the City to increase the NYC Parks budget by $200 million.

Now in its second year, Play Fair is a multiyear campaign to improve the quality of New York City parks, address climate change, and create green jobs.

The digital rally featured videos of: Sarah Blas, Child Wellness Initiative Coordinator, Staten Island Child Wellness Initiative; Sarah Charlop-Powers, Executive Director & Co-Founder, Natural Areas Conservancy; Daniel Clay, President of Local 1507, DC 37; Sarah Dougherty, Program Manager, Waterfront Alliance; Eli Dvorkin, Editorial and Policy Director, Center for an Urban Future; Madison Garrett, Girl Scout, Girl Scouts of Greater New York; Dan Garodnick, President and CEO, Riverside Park Conservancy and former City Councilman; Paul R. Gottsegen, Co-Chair and Acting Executive Director, New Yorkers for Parks; New York City Council Member Robert Holden; Lynn Kelly, Executive Director, New York Restoration Project; New York City Council Member and Chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation Peter Koo; Janice Melnick, Executive Director, Alliance for Flushing Meadows Corona Park; Brad Taylor, President, Friends of Morningside Park; Christina Taylor, Director of Programs and Operations, Van Cortlandt Park Alliance; Julie Tighe, President, New York League of Conservation Voters; and Emily Walker, Director of Outreach and Programs, New Yorkers for Parks.

Last year 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. This year they’re calling on the City to invest in the long-term maintenance and safety of New York City open spaces, with increased staffing, expanded youth programming, protection of natural areas, investments in infrastructure, and more.

The Play Fair Coalition includes New York City Councilmember and Parks Committee Chair Peter Koo; founding members New Yorkers for Parks, District Council 37, and New York League of Conservation Voters; and over 230 parks, community garden, environment, recreation, youth development and social justice organizations from across the five boroughs.

Throughout the digital rally, the Play Fair Coalition outlined a vision for how an increase of $100 million in the FY21 expense budget and $100 million in the FY21 four-year capital plan would create quality parks, a healthy environment and green jobs, while transforming neighborhoods across every corner of the City. The Play Fair Coalition detailed how the $200 million would improve and maintain open spaces across the city:


$100M to invest in the Expense Budget for NYC Parks

$74.95M to invest in critical maintenance and operations, including $10M to baseline the new 100 City Park Workers and 50 Gardener positions added in the FY20 budget

  • $8.15M to invest in recreation and programming
  • $9M to invest in parks safety
  • $7.92M to invest in nature and resiliency

$100M in capital investments for NYC Parks

  • $52M to rebuild 10 neighborhood parks and playgrounds throughout the City
  • $4.8M to invest in vitally needed structural improvements for GreenThumb Community Gardens citywide 
  • $3.8M to continue critical investments in proactively protecting, conserving, and maintaining our natural forests
  • $39.4M in flexible capital funding for NYC Parks to help complete capital projects and improve parks infrastructure citywide


Parkland makes up 14 percent of all City land, but even with last year’s historic increase NYC Parks received only approximately 0.6 percent of the City’s budget. The last time NYC Parks received at least one percent of the City’s budget was in the 1970s. This lack of funding prohibits the Parks Department from being able to maintain parks and ensure their long-term health.

The Play Fair Coalition notes that parks and gardens are a vital part of life in New York and are essential to healthy communities – they serve as backyards, front yards, summer vacation destinations, gyms, respites and a vital place for New Yorkers of all ages to connect with nature in the densest city in the nation.

The Play Fair Coalition believes that increasing the Parks Department’s budget by $200 million would positively impact the lives of millions of New Yorkers.


Council Member Peter Koo, Chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation, stated, "Despite being one of the most widely enjoyed amenities in the city, our parks are routinely overlooked and underfunded in the budget. That began to change last year when we worked with the City Council and the administration to secure a historic investment in NYC's parks. But that was just the beginning. Much of that investment is already set to expire, sending us right back to square one. The Play Fair 4 Parks Campaign seeks to baseline just over one half a percent of the total city budget funding so that we can finally give our city's parks the resources they deserve." 


"We are proud to stand with all members of the Play Fair Coalition – over 230 organizations from across the five boroughs, representing thousands of New Yorkers – in calling on the City to increase funding for NYC Parks by $200 million," said Paul R. Gottsegen, Co-Chair and Acting Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks. "With our population continuing to grow, and our city becoming more and more dense, now is the time to invest in both the infrastructure of our parks, and in people who keep them clean, safe and beautiful."


Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, stated, "Last year, the City Council added nearly $44 million to support the Play Fair for Parks campaign. This year, we are calling on the Mayor and City Council to add $200 million for Park’s Department expenses and critical capital investments. Protecting parks is one of NYLCV’s top priorities because parks and other green spaces are one of the city’s most valuable environmental assets. Our city’s tree canopy helps mitigate climate change by storing more than a million tons of carbon each year and mitigate urban heat island. Our city’s parks provide clean air by filtering out pollutants, and help protect our waterways by capturing almost 2 billion gallons of stormwater each year. To fight climate change and support healthy neighborhoods, we need to Play Fair for Parks!"


"Everything we do at City Parks Foundation -- from SummerStage concerts and free sports programs to environmental education for middle schoolers and community volunteerism through Partnerships for Parks -- depends on our city's parks having adequate resources for good maintenance and operations," said Heather Lubov, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation. "Parks are in every neighborhood and are our most fundamentally democratic public spaces, yet receive less than 1% of the city's budget. It’s time to play fair for parks."


"Girl Scouts of Greater New York is proud to stand alongside New Yorkers for Parks and all members of the Play Fair Coalition in the fight for more funding for green spaces. Clean, accessible parks are vitally important, as they serve as outdoor classrooms for our Girl Scouts and all New York City youth. Ensuring our parks are healthy and sustainable for the next generation is a great responsibility, and Girl Scouts stand eager to do their part to ensure parks remain a vibrant part of our city fabric for years to come," said Meridith Maskara, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater New York.


"In a city as densely populated as New York, gardens and parks provide innumerable vital services to residents and visitors alike," said Lynn Kelly, Executive Director of New York Restoration Project. "Nature is a fundamental right of every New Yorker, and yet far too many don’t have access to green spaces that are well-maintained and thriving. Parks are critical urban infrastructure and must be treated as such, which is why we’re proud to join the Play Fair Coalition in calling for an additional $200 million dollars in funding for NYC Parks."


"New York needs to prioritize its essential public infrastructure, and that needs to include parks," said Dan Garodnick, President of Riverside Park Conservancy and former City Councilman. "Ensuring access to well-maintained green public spaces are as basic to city life as having water mains that don’t burst, roads without potholes, and a mass transit system that you can count on.  But to make that happen, we need to invest. We need to do better."

"Parks are a critical part of any livable sustainable city, and deserve our investment," said Carter Strickland, New York State Director for The Trust for Public Land. "Well-funded and maintained parks have the power to make our communities healthier, our air cleaner, and our relationships with neighbors stronger."


"AIA New York is proud to be part of the Play Fair Coalition to advocate for more parks funding. We hope Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Johnson will see the need for parks that are better funded, and, therefore, better designed and maintained. Architects stand ready to design a parks system with facilities and green spaces that are more open and inviting for all New Yorkers," said Kim Yao, President, American Institute of Architects New York.



About New York City Council Member, Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Peter Koo:

Council Member Peter Koo, who represents the 20th city council district in Queens, was elected to the council in November 2009. Council Member Koo has chaired the Council’s committee on parks and recreation since June 2019. He was previously a member of the committee. For more information, visit

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

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  

About DC 37:

District Council 37 is New York City's largest public employee union, representing 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