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Advocates host rally in support of ‘1% for parks’ in New York City

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Save Our Parks City Hall Rally. 3/22/2022
Adrian Childress

Elected officials stood and rallied with open space advocates ahead of the New York City Council on Parks Committee Budget Hearing, to demand that Mayor Adams and the City Council commit 1% of the NYC Fiscal Year 2023 budget to the city Parks Department.

If fulfilled, this pledge would amount to roughly $1 billion allocated to the Parks Department for existing park maintenance and the development of new park facilities.

In attendance at the March 22 rally were City Council Parks Committee Chair Shekar Krishnan; Council Members Erik Bottcher, Julie Menin, Eric Dinowitz, Marjorie Velázquez, Althea Stevens, Sandy Nurse and Selvena Brooks-Powers representing the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan; and Borough Presidents Mark Levine and Antonio Reynoso.

Mayor Adams had previously signed this commitment during his election campaign – then outlined in the New Yorkers for Parks’ Five Point Plan for Park Equity – however as Adams announced his Preliminary budget, the previously agreed upon amount was slashed in half. 

This decision to allocate only 0.5% to the Park Department would cut $60 million from the proposed budget and potentially put 3,500 essential NYC Parks employees at risk of losing their jobs. 

“After publicly supporting our call for 1 percent, we were disappointed to see the $60 million cut to the budget,” said Adam Ganser, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks. “Our city desperately needs to follow the lead of many others across the country and adequately fund our Parks Department. Allocating a minimum of one percent will ensure proper maintenance and management of these open spaces, particularly as peak park season approaches. We urge Mayor Adams to see parks as critical infrastructure and adopt our Five Point Plan for Park Equity so we can ensure safe, equitable and clean parks across the five boroughs.”

Elected officials were keen to advocate for the Parks budget reallocation, as well as open space advocate groups New Yorkers for Parks, the New York League of Conservation Voters, other members of the 400+ Play Fair Coalition and the nearly 200 additional rally participants.

“We urge the Administration to restore and baseline $60 million in funding for city parks,” said Henry Garrido, Executive Director of DC 37. “New Yorkers relied on public parks more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visits to public parks, green spaces, beaches, trails and wetlands were up 70 percent from pre-pandemic levels. The City cannot afford to make cuts that will reduce services and staff. It is unthinkable to ask our members who are frontline essential workers to sacrifice yet again and do more with less.”

City Council Parks Committee Chair Krishnan previously called upon Mayor Adams to additionally invest $1 billion for critical annual infrastructure maintenance as well as operations of the city’s parks and open spaces. 

“We have no time to waste as the warm weather approaches, and our city must invest in our parks and open spaces now,” said Krishnan. “That’s why I’m calling on Mayor Adams to invest $1 billion, or 1 percent of the FY23 budget, in funding for NYC parks. The pandemic showed the great need for these open spaces and what happens to them when they’re underfunded. This funding will ensure we can properly maintain our parks and invest in their future improvement.”

“After publicly supporting our call for 1 percent, we were disappointed to see the $60 million cut to the budget,” said Adam Ganser, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks. “Our city desperately needs to follow the lead of many others across the country and adequately fund our Parks Department. Allocating a minimum of one percent will ensure proper maintenance and management of these open spaces, particularly as peak park season approaches. We urge Mayor Adams to see parks as critical infrastructure and adopt our Five Point Plan for Park Equity so we can ensure safe, equitable and clean parks across the five boroughs.”

These open spaces make up roughly 1% of NYC’s $100 billion budget, which is much smaller than in other cities where it is common for them to invest anywhere from 2-5% in assuring maintenance and protection.

“Parks are vital environmental assets to New York City and we must treat them that way by allocating 1 percent funding to the NYC Parks Department,” said Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “Without this proper funding, these vital resources fall into disarray, which negatively impacts all New Yorkers. Our parks and open spaces mitigate climate change, promote resiliency, lower air temperatures by up to 9 degrees, and remove 1,300 tons of pollutants from the atmosphere each year. It is time for Mayor Adams and the City Council to provide historic investment in our parks and open spaces across the five boroughs.”

Last updated 3/23/2022 11:42 am

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