District Council 37 and the City Council are pushing the de Blasio administration to boost funding for city parks by $100 million, which would allow the city to hire 206 more Parks Department employees.
The Council’s Play Fair initiative, adopted from a campaign to maintain and improve city parks and forests supported by 120 organizations, including DC 37, called for the de Blasio administration to budget $4 million to hire 76 Playground Associates, who work in sports and after-school programs. It also suggested adding 50 new Urban Park Rangers, at a cost of $9 million, and spending $6 million to hire 80 Parks Enforcement Patrol Officers.
Besides boosting staffing, the advocates sought funding to improve community gardens.
Shortchanged by City?
But the city’s $92-billion Executive Budget plan did not include support for any of these proposals. The coalition, which rallied at City Hall May 14, argued that though parks made up 14 percent of city land, just 0.59 percent of the Fiscal Year 2019 budget was dedicated to them.
"More than ever, New Yorkers depend on our city parks to provide the sanctuary for recreation and relaxation.” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, who represents thousands of workers in the Parks Department. “We must do everything we can to keep the parks safe and well-maintained in order to improve the quality of life in our communities. We urge Mayor de Blasio to increase the city’s investment in our parks in this year’s budget.”
The funding would also be used to make 100 City Park Worker and 50 Gardener jobs permanent.
“Every year we go through the same tired process to protect the needed resources for vital operational expenses for our parks, including funding for over 150 park employees and improvements to park infrastructure,” said Council Member Mark Levine. “We need to make a long-term commitment to adequately cover operational costs at all our parks.”
Cites Climate-Change Role
Sarah Charlop-Powers, executive director of Natural Areas Conservancy, which manages and restores forests and wetlands across the city, pointed out that the city’s urban infrastructure played a “crucial” role to “combating the impacts of climate change.”
“Extreme heat is the deadliest impact of climate change in the U.S., and tree canopy is the most cost-effective way to combat urban heat,” she said. “Funding Play Fair is a key step toward improving and protecting lives for current and future generations of New Yorkers.”
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