Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Council agreed to a landmark new budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which includes a historic $43.5 million increase in funding for parks and green spaces. This is a major victory for our Play Fair campaign and the future of our city’s parks.
Earlier this year, NYLCV partnered with New Yorkers For Parks and DC 37 to found the Play Fair for Parks Campaign, a multi-year campaign led by a coalition that includes 145 parks groups from all over the city to advocate for the funding of parks maintenance, staffing, and programming. The Play Fair coalition asked the Mayor and the City Council to provide a $100 million increase in funding to the NYC Parks Department. Most of what we asked for was secured with an additional $43 million investment in parks over the next year. In some cases, the City Council went above what we asked for to secure even more investments in parks!
As part of the funding in this budget, 100 park maintenance workers and 50 gardeners will be permanently hired. These positions were previously temporary and hired on a year-to-year basis. This ensures that families will have secure, green jobs for years to come. DC 37, New Yorkers for Parks, NYLCV, and other groups have been advocating for making these positions permanent for many years and were finally able to make it happen with the power of the Play Fair coalition.
Another $9 million will hire 50 Urban Park Rangers and 80 Parks Enforcement Patrol officers. Funding will also go towards better maintenance and programming. An investment of $1.7 million will extend the beach and pool season. Another $4 million will pay for forestry management, and $8.2 million will support all 550 GreenThumb community gardens throughout the entire city. This investment will go towards new soil, raised beds at every GreenThumb garden, and other maintenance improvements.
This budget will proactively provide New York City’s parks with the care they need to remain healthy in our changing climate. Maintenance workers will have the resources they need to manage and protect parks, gardens, playgrounds, and 7,300 acres of forests citywide.
The Play Fair coalition has been advocating for these investments because well-maintained parks are a vital part of New York’s urban environment. Forests contribute to the city’s environmental health and mitigate the effects of climate change. Trees filter out harsh pollutants from the air, cool down temperatures in the summer, and provide habitats for wildlife. In NYC alone, trees are estimated to filter out 1,300 tons of pollutants, save approximately $93.2 in health costs, capture 2 billion gallons of stormwater runoff, and store 1.2 million tons of carbon annually.
This commitment from the City Council would not have been possible without our Play Fair founding coalition partners, New Yorkers for Parks and DC 37. We also would not have seen this victory without the participation of all our supporters who signed the petition, made phone calls to Council Members, and entered our social media contest.
We thank Speaker Johnson for his support of the campaign, as well as the City Council and Mayor de Blasio for their historic agreement. It is critical that we continue to support our city’s environment by fighting for green spaces citywide. This is only the beginning of our multi-year campaign, and there will be more for Play Fair soon.