The Mayor’s Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2018 Budget is in its preliminary stage. NYLCV is committed to advancing a sustainability agenda that promotes human, neighborhood, and economic health and resiliency. In order to do so, we recommend the following changes to the 2018 Executive Budget.
Parks and Open Space
Though the city has upgraded some parks through the Community Parks Initiative (CPI), park patronage is rising while funding is falling. An additional $150 million invested in the CPI would be enough to revitalize 40 additional parks in low and moderate income neighborhoods. Additionally, the budget should restore and baseline the $6.7 million that the preliminary budget failed to provide for 150 CPI maintenance jobs that help keep our parks beautiful.
The GreenThumb Community Garden is a division of NYC Parks that is particularly susceptible to federal budget cuts. Given the current climate of unpredictability at the federal level, we urge the City to allocate $1 million to protect this vulnerable program.
Lastly, Partnership for Parks is a program that connects local communities and park advocacy groups to care for parks. Their funding is too low, and the caseload of the handful of Coordinators is too high. $1 million for Partnership for Parks would be enough to hire more staff with reasonable workloads.
We support de Blasio’s Vision Zero goals because it improves street safety and encourages zero-emission walking and biking. The additional $400 million over the next five years in the program is a big win.
In order to achieve these goals, the $317 million budgeted for street redesigns should be done to Vision Zero’s street design standards, with features like protected bike lanes and safeguarded crosswalks.
Healthy Food Access
Access to local, healthy food improves our environmental, public health, and overall quality of life. New York State has had great success with the Healthy Food Healthy Communities Fund, which enabled 20 new food markets to open in areas with limited access to healthy food. The State no longer funds the HFHCF, but the City can replicate its successful model by investing $10 million in a healthy food financing program.
Affordability is the other roadblock to accessing healthy food. Health Bucks is a successful food financing program that has already led to the purchase of over $2 million in fresh produce, and we support an investment of $15 million to expand the program to reach more New Yorkers.
The GreenMarket regional Food Hub by GrowNYC is a proposed wholesale distribution center in the South Bronx that would connect residents with slocal, healthy food and support food access programs like Youthmarkets throughout the city. Currently, the 5,000 square foot facility run by GrowNYC is at capacity. We encourage the city to invest $5 million for the food hub to expand vital access to healthy food.
Sanitation and Waste
Too much of the Department of Sanitation budget is focused on waste processing (24%), rather than prevention (3%). To reach its goal of zero waste being sent to landfills by 2030, the City should invest $3 million in public engagement around organic waste and recycling programs. This step would direct more of the waste stream into recycling, and give New Yorkers a greater understanding of waste’s environmental significance.
Energy and Buildings
The Department of Buildings recently passed a bill which expanded energy-use tracking and energy audits in buildings. It’s imperative that equivalent adjustments be made to the department’s funding in order to accommodate their new duties.
Though we applaud the City’s significant investment in water quality through the Green Infrastructure Program, the construction of new projects hasn’t reflected the level of spending. We urge City Council to ensure the Department of Environmental Protection takes necessary steps to move closer to its green infrastructure targets set by New York State.
Lastly, as the DEP renegotiates its Consent Order with the state, we urge them not to loosen their commitment to green infrastructure or lose track of their original goals: to reduce sewage and runoff so we have fishable, swimmable water in New York City.