On March 22nd, NYLCV testified at the City Council Preliminary Budget Hearing for the Committee on Parks and Recreation, and advocated for allocating 1.0% of the NYC Fiscal Year 2023 Budget to parks.
As part of his campaign, Mayor Adams made a commitment to allocating 1.0% of next year’s budget to parks. However, the newly announced Preliminary Budget revealed that not only is the administration going back on their promised 1.0% amount, but that they are cutting $60 million from the FY22 budget and removing 3,500 essential park positions.
We are calling on Mayor Adams and the City Council to reverse the cuts that have been proposed and invest critical resources into our beloved parks and green spaces.
If fulfilled, 1.0% would provide roughly $1 billion to the Parks Department for existing park maintenance and for the development of new park facilities. Following the budget cuts of FY 2021, the parks saw their worst conditions on record. We need more PEP officers to keep our parks safe and more City Parks Workers and Gardeners to keep them clean and in usable condition.
Allocating 1.0% is a necessary and reasonable ask, especially considering most other major cities across the nation consistently commit between 2-5% to their parks each year. Our parks make up 14% of all City land, and it’s time we fund the necessary upgrades to revitalize these natural and recreational areas.
NYC’s parks and green areas not only bring the community together and give the city its unique character, but also serve as vital assets in environmental conservation and contribute to the wellbeing of New Yorkers. Our parks are integral in reducing the urban heat island effect, and can lower temperatures by up to nine degrees. While street surfaces and rooftops retain heat, green areas deflect radiation from the sun, thus decreasing air conditioning usage and reducing heat-related illness amongst residents. Nationwide, city trees prevent approximately 1,200 heat-related deaths and countless heat-related illnesses annually.
Parks also contribute to resilience by fighting flooding, capturing stormwater and reducing runoff by 90%, and ensuring water quality by filtering out as much as 95% of major pollutants. It is especially critical that we protect and expand these areas in communities of color and low income communities that have been historically underserved by parkland. As sea levels rise and harsher weather becomes more frequent, it is imperative that all of New York is equipped with the resources necessary to combat the effects of climate change.
Prior to the Budget Hearing on March 22nd, the Play Fair for Parks Coalition– a campaign run by NYLCV, New Yorkers for Parks, and DC 37– gathered together to rally alongside elected officials and other advocates to demand the Mayor and City Council fulfill their 1.0% commitment.
Many elected officials were in attendance, including City Council Parks Committee Chair Shekar Krishnan, and Council Members Erik Bottcher, Julie Menin, Eric Dinowitz, Marjorie Velázquez, Althea Stevens, Sandy Nurse and Selvena Brooks-Powers, Mark Levine and Antonio Reynoso.
We heard from several other prominent community leaders, including the president of NYLCV, Julie Tighe.
“Parks are vital environmental assets to New York City and we must treat them that way by allocating one percent funding to the NYC Parks Department,” said Tighe. “Without this proper funding, these vital resources fall into disarray, which negatively impacts all New Yorkers.”
NYLCV and Play Fair for Parks will continue to work with the administration to expand the proposed funding amount to revive these invaluable spaces, but support must also come from the constituents. We need to let our leaders know that our parks and our community deserve more than this. Please take two minutes to add your name to a list of advocates for the conservation of our green spaces. By signing Play Fair’s petition, you’re declaring your support for the allocation of 1.0% to parks, and urging the Mayor to fulfill what he initially set forth to accomplish. The preservation of our parks is one of NYLCV’s top priorities, and should be for NYC legislators and administration as well.