Elected Officials And Advocates Rally To Strengthen Parks From Harlem To Hollis

May 25, 2016

harlems mark levineToday, City Council Parks Committee Chair Mark Levine and New Yorkers for Parks were joined by elected officials, community garden enthusiasts and advocates from across the city, who gathered to rally in support of the City’s parks and green spaces. Park supporters from across the city called on the Administration to increase funding for park security officers, save 150 maintenance workers and gardeners who jobs are slated to be cut in the Executive Budget proposal and develop plans for new green spaces as the City adds population, particularly in the outer boroughs.

Additional funding proposals the Council and advocates have called for that are not part of the Mayor’s Executive Budget, include the Park Equity Initiative, Green Thumb Program, an extension of the beach and pool season, along with funding for tree stump removal, and the hiring of new playground associates. Each of these programs are of relatively little cost in the context of the overall city budget, yet they remain vital to advancing a meaningful Park Equity agenda.

“As the city continues to grow, we need to think big about investing in new green space in neighborhoods that have been long neglected,” said Harlem Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the Parks Committee. “And as we plan for green space, we need to ensure the critical maintenance workers and gardeners who help our parks thrive, and the PEP officers who keep our parks safe, are fully funded and equitably allocated. Now is the time to double down on a robust park equity agenda to provide every community with healthy green space–especially in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. I look forward to working with the Administration, my colleagues and advocates from across the five boroughs to strengthen parks in all corners of the city.”

“We appreciate the additions the mayor has made to this year’s parks budget, which are a great step in the right direction. But the population of New York City is higher than it’s ever been, and our parks are more important than ever,” said Tupper Thomas, Executive Director for New Yorkers for Parks. “We need increased permanent staff to maintain our parks. These entry-level positions are good, well-paying jobs that offer a path to the middle class. This is a win-win for the people of New York. We also need more capital funds for the improvement of existing neighborhood parks and the creation of new parkland to keep our growing city vibrant and healthy.”

“We have the premier parks system in the country but the Department of Parks and Recreation’s budget has not kept pace with the needs of a system that has steadily increased in size and in usage,” said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “The Community Parks Initiative is a great start, but it will take a lot more to achieve a fully funded parks system. We look forward to working with the Administration and the City Council to realize a robustly-funded, well-maintained parks system that equitably allocates resources.”

“Our parks cannot thrive if we don’t commit to supporting the workers who maintain them every day. As a native of the Borough of Parks, I know how important our beaches, pools and green spaces are for the health and well-being of children and adults, not just in the summer months, but throughout the year. It is imperative that we have sufficient staff to maintain our parks. As budget negotiations continue, I will work with my colleagues to ensure continued support for our maintenance workers, and to expand our beach and pool season,” said Council Member Debi Rose.

“Our City’s parks serve millions of New Yorkers every year, and it is our job as elected officials to ensure that they are well maintained and accessible. The administration must include additional funding in this year’s Executive Budget to support the critical functions that maintenance workers and groundskeepers perform in our green spaces. I also join with my colleagues in calling for funds to be allocated expand the beach and pool season to give more New Yorkers budget-friendly opportunities to enjoy the warm weather with their families,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera.

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“The beautiful parks and green spaces throughout New York City are enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.  As a council member whose district includes both Alley Pond and Cunningham Parks, I strongly support the proposal to baseline funding to support park maintenance workers; doing so will help ensure that we can preserve these parks for future generations,” said Council Member Barry Grodenchik.

“Our parks are the lungs of our great City. The funding of all parks, large and small, needs to reflect the vital role they play in the lives of New Yorkers of every age. We must ensure that the capital funding needs of our green spaces are met, and that our parks remain safe places for everyone to enjoy. I thank Chair Levine for his leadership on this issue,” said Council Member Margaret Chin.

“The importance of public green spaces in concrete jungles like New York City is undeniable. What’s equally important is ensuring that all New Yorkers, regardless of socio-economic status, have access to clean and safe green spaces. This is an urgent matter – the summer season is at our door and our youth deserve places to play and swim that are open for service and well-maintained. I call on the Mayor to think about the low income youth who won’t have many options in the summer and consider baselining critical funding for parks now,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

Council Member Mark Levine · 500 W 141st St, New York, NY 10031

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