ASLA-NY Supports the Rally For Parks

Photo credit: Jennifer L. Nitzky

Photo credit: Jennifer L. Nitzky

This week will mark important developments in the budget discussion for our city’s precious green spaces. As our city grows, providing healthy parks will be crucial to making life more livable for all New Yorkers. This means investing in playgrounds, community gardens, street trees, and adequate staffing for the critical maintenance work needed to ensure our parks can thrive.

Please join Council Member Mark Levine, New Yorkers for Parks, The New York League of Conservation Voters, El Puente, American Society of Landscape Architects, New York Chapter,  advocates, activists, community gardens enthusiasts and elected officials from across the city for a rally to stand up and fight for our parks.

  • WHAT: Rally for City Parks
  • WHEN: Wednesday, May 27, 11 AM
  • WHERE: Steps of City Hall
  • RSVP here
Increased funding for parks will:

Provide Capital Funding for DPR’s Green Thumb Program

Community gardens play an important role in the neighborhoods they serve by providing much needed green space to neighborhoods and schools. These gardens help to promote environmental education, encourage local food production and activate unused open space in neighborhoods. Because the budget for supporting the City’s 628 community gardens and 483 school gardens is so small, the Council calls on the Administration to allocate additional capital funding of $5 million in the DPR’s budget in Fiscal 2016 for the Green Thumb program. The funding will provide for infrastructure needs such as fencing, irrigation systems, and other equipment needed for the community gardens.

 

Increase Funding for the Green Thumb Program

Community gardens play an important role in the neighborhoods they serve by providing much needed green space to neighborhoods and schools. These gardens help to promote environmental education, encourage local food production and activate unused open space in neighborhoods. The Green Thumb program has historically relied on federal block grant funding which has been inadequate. As such, the Council urges the Administration to include additional baseline funding of $1 million in DPR’s budget in Fiscal 2016 for the Green Thumb program to support the City’s more than 600 community gardens.

 

Increase Funding for DPR’s Trees and Sidewalk Program

DPR’s tree and sidewalk program helps to repair severe sidewalk damage caused by tree and root growth citywide. Currently, DPR’s budget includes annual funding of only $3 million for the tree and sidewalk program. Over the past several years, DPR has experienced significant budget cuts in this area, resulting in a huge backlog of repair orders. As a result, to ensure that DPR has adequate funding to begin to make safe the approximately 25,000 backlogged sites, the Council urges the Administration to include additional baseline funding of $3 million, for a total of $6 million, in DPR’s budget in Fiscal 2016 for the tree and sidewalk program.

 

Increase Funding for Playground Associates

Playground associates play a vital role in the City’s neighborhood parks by providing supervised recreation in the local parks and playgrounds. Currently, the DPR has only 145 playground associates to serve all of the City’s 680 playgrounds that have comfort stations. Consequently, many City playgrounds lack the services of playground associates. City playgrounds remain a vital source of recreational opportunities for every New Yorker, and supervised recreational activities are crucial in fighting obesity and keeping the City’s kids healthy. The Council calls on the Administration to include additional baseline funding of $5.4 million in DPR’s budget in Fiscal 2016 to hire 204 additional playground associates.

 

Restore and Baseline Funding for Parks Enforcement Patrol

PEP officers are responsible for enforcing quality of life laws, the New York City Administrative

Code, Parks’ Rules and Regulations, and acting as Parks’ ambassadors. Public safety in parks and playgrounds is one of their most important responsibilities. However, because there are only 182 PEP officers available many City parks are left without any PEP presence. To address the need for additional PEP officers and to ensure that more City parks receive the benefit of having PEP officers present, the Council allocated $5 million in the Fiscal 2015 budget for 80 additional PEP officers. However, because the funding was not base-lined, it is not included in the Fiscal 2016 Preliminary Budget. The Council urges the Administration to increase the baseline funding for PEP officers in Fiscal 2016 by $5 million for 80 additional PEP officers, bringing the total number of PEP officers to 360, including 98 that are privately funded in Fiscal 2016.

 

Restore and Baseline Funding for Park Maintenance Workers

Last year, the Council successfully negotiated an $8.7 million funding allocation for additional gardeners and City Park Workers (CPWs) including a $3.7 million allocation from the Council to help maintain neighborhood parks citywide. The majority of this funding was later used by the Administration to support the expense component of the Community Parks Initiative (CPI) program. CPI is a new City initiative launched by the Administration to aggressively tackle equity issues in the City’s under-resourced communities by investing $130 million in parks with less than $250,000 of capital investment over the past 20 years. Because the Fiscal 2015 allocation was not base-lined, all workers associated with the funding are in jeopardy of losing their jobs in Fiscal 2016 and in the out-years. For the current year, DPR has a total of 750 CPWs and 150 gardeners including 50 gardeners and 100 CPWs that are paid for with this funding allocation. Increased public spending is needed for the wellbeing of the City’s precious green spaces, especially in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. The Council calls on the Administration to restore and baseline the $8.7 million funding for park maintenance workers in Fiscal 2016.

 

Restore and Baseline Funding for Parks Equity Initiative

The Fiscal 2015 Adopted Budget includes $750,000 allocated by the Council for the Parks Equity Initiative program. This program supports community programming in smaller neighborhood parks through grants to local community groups. The groups do outreach and programming in neighborhood parks. This initiative was absorbed into the new citywide Community Parks Initiative (CPI) program launched by the Administration after the 2015 Budget was adopted. However, the Council’s allocation was not base-lined and therefore not included in the Fiscal 2016 Preliminary Budget. To help support volunteer stewardship groups in parks in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, the Council recommends that the Administration restore and baseline this funding in Fiscal 2016.

 

Restore and Baseline Funding for Tree Pruning

The Fiscal 2016 Preliminary Budget does not include $1 million allocated by the Council in the

Fiscal 2015 Adopted Budget to support DPR’s tree pruning efforts. With the Fiscal 2015 Council funding the DPR has experienced the highest level of block-pruning in over 13 years. DPR will prune over 70,000 trees this year, out of 590,000 street and park-perimeter trees that need to be pruned resulting in a pruning cycle closer to the industry standard of seven years if sustained. The failure to restore this funding could hinder the DPR’s efforts to reduce the pruning cycle. Since adequately pruning trees would help minimize the danger posed by falling tree limbs, the Council urges the Administration to restore and baseline this funding in Fiscal 2016. This action will restore total funding for tree pruning to $4.4 million in Fiscal 2016.

 

Restore and Baseline Funding for Tree Stumps Removal

The Fiscal 2015 Adopted Budget includes a $750,000 allocation provided by the Council for a total of $3 million for tree stump removal citywide. The funding provided in Fiscal 2015 will allow the DPR to remove 6,700 stumps and continue to remove 99 percent of reported dead trees within 30 days. However, the Council’s allocation was not base-lined and therefore not included in the Fiscal 2016 Preliminary Budget. As such, to ensure that DPR will continue to meet its target for tree stump removal, the Council urges the Administration to restore and baseline funding in the amount of $750,000 in Fiscal 2016 for tree stump removal.

###