Play Fair

Mayor Adams' proposed budget cuts NYC Parks by $55 million and eliminates over 600 jobs.

What can New Yorkers expect? Trash! Unsafe parks and playgrounds; dirty bathrooms that close early; delayed opening of sprinklers and fountains; reduced recreation center hours and programming; trees that go unmaintained for far too long.

These cuts will devastate an already understaffed, under-resourced agency, making it impossible to ensure safe, clean, green and resilient parks for New Yorkers. Use the links below to fight back.

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FY25 Advocacy Calendar

June

  • Collecting CM signatures for Play Fair sign-on letter
  • June 10th at 11am: Testify at City Council Hearing
    • Committee on Parks and Recreation: Oversight - Community Gardens and Support for Urban Agriculture
    • Location: 250 Broadway - Committee Room, 16th Floor
  • Date TBD: FY25 city budget finalized
About Play Fair

Play Fair for Parks is an advocacy campaign and 500+ member coalition calling for #1Percent4Parks and elevating parks issues citywide.

New Yorkers for Parks co-founded Play Fair along with the New York League of Conservation Voters and District Council 37, the NYC Parks workers’ union.

14% of New York City is parkland, but the NYC Parks Department's budget is just 0.6% of the total city budget. Parks are critical infrastructure which have been overlooked and underfunded for fifty years. The pandemic revealed longstanding inequities and highlighted the dire need to invest in the development and maintenance of a 21st-century parks system for all New Yorkers.

The Play Fair Coalition calls on the Mayor and City Council to adopt our Five Point Plan for Park Equity and dedicate 1% of the budget to NYC Parks.

Our Coalition has over 500 groups and organizations focused on parks, transportation, the environment, social justice, and infrastructure from across the five boroughs.

The Play Fair Coalition includes:

FY24 Budget Statement

FY24 Budget Again Falls Short of 1% for Parks, Threatening Staffing and Maintenance Needs

The FY24 New York City budget includes $638 million for NYC Parks. As a dollar amount, this represents the largest ever parks budget. This is thanks to Play Fair’s collective advocacy, and to the City Council Members who championed the coalition’s funding asks and pushed back against proposed cuts.

However, this budget does not move the needle on parks equity, leaving crucial maintenance and staffing needs unfulfilled. Total agency staff has been reduced 174 from last year, and despite increased parks usage, the agency headcount remains below pre-Covid funding levels.

This budget represents a significant missed opportunity for the administration to build stronger, safer communities, mitigate climate change, and improve the daily lives of every New Yorker. Read our full budget statement with NYLCV.

Sign the petition telling Mayor Adams to allocate 1% of the city budget for NYC Parks

Past Successes

2022: Play Fair Wins Historic Parks Funding in FY23

Fighting proposed cuts to parks funding in FY23, NY4P and the Play Fair Coalition held two rallies at City Hall, launched a petition with nearly 5,000 signatures, and issued a sign-on letter to signed by over half the City Council and four borough presidents.

Thanks to our collective advocacy, Mayor Adams and the City Council passed a budget with historic parks funding. At $624M, it remains the largest NYC Parks budget ever, surpassing the record set in FY22.

This significant investment in parks and parks workers included 715 new permanent NYC Parks jobs, City Council funding to expand parks equity and preserve natural areas, and renewed funding for gardeners.

However, while this budget indicates clear progress, the parks department remains underfunded and understaffed, with direct consequences for our parks and open spaces and all who use them. Mayor Adams must fulfill his commitment to fund parks at 1% of the city budget.

2021: Parks Budget Restoration

In 2021, we called on Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council to restore essential funds to the NYC Parks department. NYC Parks received the 2nd largest cut of any agency following COVID-19 austerity measures. That reduction of $84 million caused parks to be in the worst conditions on record while demand for them was at an all-time high.

Elected leaders heard our voices and restored $80M to NYC Parks budget for FY22, making it the largest NYC Parks budget ever adopted by the city! 

All of our Play Fair asks were funded through the full fiscal year either through Council, Mayoral, or federal stimulus funds, or a shift of funds from operations to capital budgets.

FY22 Play Fair Budget Platform: $80M to Renew and Restore the Expense Budget for NYC Parks

$58M to reinvest in critical Maintenance and Operations

  • $10M to baseline the FY21 one-shot 100 City Park Worker and 50 Gardener staff lines

  • $30M to restore the seasonal staff budget for maintenance and operations workers citywide

  • $3M to restore the Parks Opportunity Program and provide a pathway to full-time employment

  • $15M to restore critical parks forestry contracts for tree pruning, stump removal, sidewalk repair, and invasive species control

$4M to reinvest in Recreation and Programming – to restore the Parks Equity Initiative and support park stewardship organizations citywide

$9M to reinvest in Parks Safety

  • $3M to restore the 50 Urban Park Ranger positions created in the FY20 budget

  • $6M to restore the 80 Parks Enforcement Patrol positions created in the FY20 budget

$7.9M to reinvest in Nature and Resiliency

  • $3.4M to restore 15 GreenThumb staff and expand access to plant materials, resources, and tools for community gardeners citywide

  • $4.5M to continue conserving and caring for our natural forests and begin critical improvements for our City’s wetlands and trails network

2020: Adapting to Change

2020 brought unprecedented challenges but we adapted to continue our advocacy. Our Coalition's campaigning in-person, by phone and email, and on Zoom resulted in 300 secured jobs for NYC Parks workers, despite the agency taking a 14% cut of $84 million.

Of those 300 secured jobs, 150 were made permanent and 150 were renewed just for the year – we'll continue to advocate for those 150 to become permanent, too.

2019: Play Fair Launch

We kicked off the Play Fair campaign in 2019 and succeeded in getting a historic increase of $44 million into the NYC Parks FY20 budget. We held two rallies in February and May attended by over 200 New Yorkers. The $44 million broke down like this:

  • $19.1 million for park maintenance workers
  • $8.2 million for GreenThumb community gardens
  • $6 million for 80 additional Parks Enforcement Patrol officers
  • $4 million for 50 additional Urban Park Rangers
  • $4 million for Forestry Management
  • $1.7 million to extend the pool and beach season
  • $1 million for tree stump removal
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