Statement from the Play Fair Coalition on the FY25 Budget

“Once again, the Adams administration has decided not to prioritize the well-being of New Yorkers and their backyards: NYC parks. We are deeply concerned by the mayor’s cuts to the Parks Department announced in the adopted budget. The decision to overlook the calls of advocates, elected officials, and thousands of New Yorkers demanding adequate funding for parks further destabilizes an already struggling agency.

We are grateful that the City Council's dedication to parks fully restored second shifts and staved off an even-more severe cut and devastating agency-wide hiring freeze. However, there is no doubt that every New Yorker will notice the effects of such a shortsighted and harmful parks budget. These cuts demonstrate a disregard for the needs of New Yorkers across the city, setting an unrealistic expectation that a vast green infrastructure—1,942 parks, over 1,000 playgrounds, 800 athletic fields, 550 tennis courts, 60 public pools, 30 recreation centers, 14 miles of beaches, 12,000 acres of natural areas, and other community assets spread across five boroughs—could be managed with a shoestring budget amounting to less than 0.6% of the total city budget.

While the mayor has restored budgets of New York culture institutions and public libraries, our city’s parks have again been left behind. This is a fundamental issue of equity, public health, and safety. The millions of New Yorkers who rely every day on parks have been let down time and time again by Mayor Adams, despite numerous commitments made on the campaign trail and while in office.”

Adam Ganser, Executive Director, New Yorkers for Parks

Julie Tighe, President, New York League of Conservation Voters

“The NYC Department of Parks and Recreation plays a critical role in making NYC livable and sustainable. They manage about 14% of NYC’s land and 53% of the entire urban forest canopy. Yet, NYC Parks is chronically underfunded and continues to receive disproportionate levels of budget cuts compared to other City agencies,” said Tami Lin-Moges, Interim Director of the New York Cities Program at The Nature Conservancy. “We are grateful to the NYC Council, especially Speaker Adrienne Adams, Finance Committee Chair Justin Brannan, and Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Shekar Krishnan, and the many fellow advocates who worked to restore some funding for NYC Parks. However, this year’s budget is still a far cry from the 1% of the City budget that’s needed to maintain our parks and trees. We will continue to work to ensure sufficient funding is invested in these critical assets.

“We are devastated to learn that, despite the advocacy of parks advocates and the NYC Council under the leadership of Speaker Adams, funding for our parks remains slashed and woefully inadequate,” said Heather Lubov, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation.“It is shortsighted for the Administration to continue to reduce funding for parks when these green spaces so clearly provide millions of dollars in economic, environmental and health benefits. New Yorkers love their parks; they flock to them by the millions, and when the Administration fails to provide adequate funding, they step up to the plate by dedicating thousands and thousands of hours of personal time to take care of these spaces. But this is not a sustainable model and it is not fair to New Yorkers who rightfully expect their tax dollars to fund the maintenance of public spaces. We are enormously grateful to the City Council and Parks Chair Krishnan for restoring what would have been even more harmful reductions. We at City Parks Foundation will continue to provide support to these dedicated volunteers and to provide free programs in these essential public spaces. But this is a band aid, not a solution. Park funding must increase.”

“We are deeply appreciative of the City Council under the leadership of Speaker Adrienne Adams for recognizing the essential role that parks play, for restoring some of the threatened cuts, and calling on the administration to finally fund parks at the level that is needed to realize their full benefits,” said New York City Parks and Open Space Partners.“However, despite the hard fought fight of park advocates, thousands of New Yorkers and the City Council, once again Parks are left underfunded in the city budget. NYC Parks has operated under an austerity budget for far too long, with only 0.6% of the city budget to care for 14% of all city land, which welcomes over 527 million visits a year. The continued disinvestment places New York's iconic park system woefully behind other major U.S. cities, to the detriment of millions of New Yorkers.

We believe in an equitable and resilient park system for all New Yorkers, which requires adequate funding, and support New Yorkers for Parks in its Play Fair campaign to secure 1% of the city budget for parks. Parks and open space nonprofits exist to work in partnership with the City, and are not a substitute for adequate and stable public funding, and we rely on the City for basic maintenance and operations. POSP is one of the most committed partners the City has in the effort to protect and improve our green spaces. These cuts will have devastating consequences for all New Yorkers and we are committed to continuing to advocate for equitable funding for Parks.”

“The Natural Areas Conservancy (NAC) is outraged and dismayed by the lack of leadership and vision represented in this year’s budget.” said Sarah Charlop-Powers, Executive Director of Natural Areas Conservancy. “The past year’s budget cuts and reinstatements have created an environment of uncertainty and instability throughout agencies, including NYC Parks. The extension of one-year funding for select Parks positions is a bare-minimum show of good faith by an administration that promises quality of life, safety, and equity but has systematically disinvested in the basic services essential to NYC residents. Fragile natural areas require sufficient and sustained funding and programming to fully realize their significant environmental and public health benefits, such as cooling, flood mitigation, and critical habitat for native plants and wildlife.

We thank the City Council for its ongoing support and dedication to our city’s park system and hope the Council and the Administration can work together in FY26 to restore critical natural areas jobs and the $2.4M allocation for Trails Formalization that would open access to our 12,000 acres of forests, wetlands, and grasslands for all New Yorkers. We join our colleagues in the Play Fair Coalition in continuing to call for Mayor Adams to fulfill his promise of allocating 1% of the city budget to Parks.”