As Complaints Pile Up Amid Budget Cuts, So Does The Trash In Parks From Harlem To Hollis

New York City park goers emerging from their coronavirus cocoons this summer lodged twice as many complaints about trash than last season, 311 data shows.

And the complaints likely aren’t solely because the city’s hikers, joggers, picnickers, and cyclists grew unfamiliar with the sight of litter during their months of staying-at-home.

Garbage grew in the city’s green spaces as NYC Parks contended with a massive pandemic-related budget cut that resulted in a 45 percent reduction in seasonal staff. “Our Parks staff’s continued service on the frontlines daily demonstrates how committed we are to maintaining our city’s parks for the health and safety of all New Yorkers, despite the loss of 1,700 seasonal maintenance and operations staff due to the pandemic-driven fiscal crisis plaguing our city,” said Dan Kastanis, a NYC Parks spokesperson, in a statement.

Garbage grew in the city’s green spaces as NYC Parks contended with a massive pandemic-related budget cut that resulted in a 45 percent reduction in seasonal staff. “Our Parks staff’s continued service on the frontlines daily demonstrates how committed we are to maintaining our city’s parks for the health and safety of all New Yorkers, despite the loss of 1,700 seasonal maintenance and operations staff due to the pandemic-driven fiscal crisis plaguing our city,” said Dan Kastanis, a NYC Parks spokesperson, in a statement.

Data from 311 complaints shows roughly 3,500 people griped over garbage and litter in the city’s parks so far this far. That’s already more than the 3,000 complaints last year.

Data from 311 complaints shows roughly 3,500 people griped over garbage and litter in the city’s parks so far this far. That’s already more than the 3,000 complaints last year.


What’s more, trash complaints from the city’s parks dipped significantly during the first months of the pandemic lockdown from March to May compared to the same months in 2019.

The litter lull didn’t last long.

Data shows garbage and litter 311 complaints in the city’s parks started to spike in June — 676 that month compared to 466 during the same time last year.

Data shows garbage and litter 311 complaints in the city’s parks started to spike in June — 676 that month compared to 466 during the same time last year.

By July and August, those complaints were roughly double what they were in 2019, according to the data.

The trash complaints not only coincide with life returning to relative normal in New York City — as well as ill-advised pandemic park parties — but also the city’s increasingly-dire budget situation.

A group of parks associations across the city in May warned that the coronavirus crisis threatened to cut funding for parks services. Their report warned the cuts could return parks to the conditions in the 1970s when they were their “most vulnerable, unkempt, and dangerous.”

But the warning didn’t forestall an $84 million reduction in the city’s 2021 parks budget. Parks officials said they couldn’t hire seasonal staff who would normally be picking up garbage.

But the warning didn’t forestall an $84 million reduction in the city’s 2021 parks budget. Parks officials said they couldn’t hire seasonal staff who would normally be picking up garbage.

That responsibility now falls on New York City park goers more than any other time in recent memory.

NYC Parks recently unveiled an anti-trash campaign with a simple message: “Show your park some love, New York. Put trash in a bag or can — or take it with you.” Officials also plan to install more than 100 new trash corrals.

“Now more than ever, our parks and greenspaces are places of refuge and we have been working hard despite the ongoing pandemic and budget reductions to keep them clean for all to enjoy,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver in a statement. “We are urging all New Yorkers to help out by disposing trash in designated receptacles, or taking it with them when they leave.”

Read the entire article here.

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