Last week, the NY League of Conservation Voters, New Yorkers for Parks, and Play Fair Coalition held a rally at the steps of the City Hall to advocate for parks. Together we advocated for Mayor Adams to dedicate a full 1% to our parks in the upcoming City Budget.
Parks are one of the City’s most valuable assets and we must be investing in them in order to fight climate change, protect public health, and bolster the safety and wellbeing of our communities. Parks provide numerous resiliency benefits, increasing cooling by reducing the urban heat island effect and fighting flooding through capturing stormwater runoff. Parks also clean our air, and absorb climate-change causing pollutants and greenhouse gasses. Lastly parks provide safe open spaces for recreation, an aspect highlighted during the height of the pandemic. To ensure parks can continue to provide these benefits, we must be investing heavily in parks operations and maintenance.
At the rally we saw dozens of supporters showing up to support this budget increase for parks. Manhattan Borough President, Mark Levine, who supports this budget increase, attended and spoke about how important parks are for the City. He emphasized that “Until the 1970s NYC devoted 1.5% of its budget to parks and now it’s just 0.5% as parks have become one of the first budget items to be cut over the years.”
Julie Tighe, the President of the NY League of Conservation Voters also spoke at the rally: “Our parks and green spaces are some of the city’s most valuable environmental assets as they improve air quality, lower air temperatures up to 9 degrees, cut air conditioning use by 30%, reduce heating energy use by a further 20-50%, and remove 1,300 tons of pollutants from the atmosphere each year.”
Adam Ganser who is the Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks spoke at the rally. He highlighted that “Our parks fell into disarray when the city budget was cut during the COVID-19 pandemic and we don’t want to see a repeat of that. Without this funding, the Parks Department will lack the resources and staff needed to properly maintain parks and open spaces across NYC.”
Carter Strickland as New York State Director with the Trust for Public Land attended the rally. He noted the importance of parks as “Parks save our city billions of dollars in health care and stormwater treatment costs, and add billions in annual value as centers for recreation and tourism.”
At our rally we were also joined by DC 37 (the NYC Parks worker’s union), Natural Areas Conservancy, Bronx River Alliance, Waterfront Alliance, and many more.
We need more staff to keep our parks safe and more City Parks Workers and Gardeners to keep them clean and in usable condition. One percent of the budget for Parks will ensure that these positions are funded and DPR has the resources to improve access and quality in our beloved parks.
If one thing is clear it’s that with the increasing value of parks, parks not only need to get their fair share, but critical funding will be needed to keep our parks safe and clean.
NY4P, NYLCV, and DC37 are now asking Play Fair members and supporters to join us for the next steps in our mission to get 1% for parks.
Council Members are now in the final weeks of budget talks, and we’re shifting our advocacy approach accordingly. This week we’re asking you to email the Council Members on the Budget and Negotiating Team (BNT). These are the officials who represent your interests directly during budget negotiations with the Adams Administration. We also encourage you to call/tweet at BNT members using this chart.
Please copy/paste the “EMAIL TEXT” below, expanding upon your personal experience at the bottom if you wish. When you are done, sign and send to the following email addresses by June 12th:
BCC: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Increase NYC Parks funding to 1% of city budget
Dear Council Member:
I’m writing to you on behalf of Play Fair, a coalition co-founded by New Yorkers for Parks. We are a parks and open space coalition of more than 400 advocacy organizations dedicated to building a better-funded, more equitable and resilient parks system in New York City.
Throughout this budget session, we fought alongside Parks Committee Chair Shekar Krishnan to demand an increase of NYC Parks funding to 1% of the city’s budget, something both Mayor Adams and Council Speaker Adams have committed to. This funding is needed for critical maintenance and operations, and to realize a comprehensive policy approach ensuring all New Yorkers have access to safe, equitable, and vibrant parks and open spaces.
There is momentum to make this happen in 2022. We urge the BNT to implement these transformative funding priorities:
Increase parks funding to 1 percent of the city’s budget: Every world-class park system in the US receives at least 1-2 percent of annual city funding. New York has underinvested in parks for over 50 years, allocating only about 0.5 percent for parks, despite parks and natural areas covering 14% of our city and more than 30,000 acres.
Save critical parks maintenance workers: NYC Parks will suffer a net loss of 1800 Cleaning Corps workers, leaving a gap in the workforce which will disproportionately impact communities of color. Last July, the Bronx had 1,047 maintenance workers. The Executive Budget proposes 822; a loss of 255 maintenance workers. The city must invest in funding these essential positions.
Protect the Play Fair positions at NYC Parks: Last year, we fought for Council-funded positions to accommodate increased park usage during the pandemic. With Covid cases and temperatures rising, New Yorkers are again relying on these spaces for mental and physical health. The Play Fair positions are vital for enforcement, maintenance, and operations.
Additionally, ensuring continued funding for the Parks Equity Initiative is critical to supporting community programs. These are critical investments that the City Council needs to remain committed to.
[insert personal experience about your local parks]
Affiliation (if applicable)
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By Alexis Hidalgo