As the chair of the Parks Committee I have been fighting hard to get additional funding for parks in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.
And our push has paid off! The Council has secured more than $15 million dollars to help erase the inequity in our parks. These funds will go towards hiring maintenance workers and gardeners who will keep parks in good repair, as well as Parks Enforcement Patrol officers who will help keep our green spaces safe.
These funds reverse a decades-long downward trend in the Parks Department's share of the city budget. In the 1960s, 1.5 percent of the City’s budget went to parks. That figure dropped to 0.86 percent in the 1980s, and then to 0.52 percent by 2000.
Much of the money will be allocated to support operations. $9.75 million will add approximately 40 full-time, permanent gardeners and maintenance workers in each borough. An additional $5 million will increase the Parks Enforcement Patrol's (PEP) ranks by nearly 50%, adding an additional 75 officers. PEP officers are authorized to issue summonses and make arrests, in addition to ensuring compliance with a park's rules and regulations, and will help to create a safer environment in city parks. Nearly 2,000 major felony crimes have been reported in the 30 city parks that the the NYPD has tracked data in since it was required to so by City Council legislation in April 2008.
Other highlights of the deal:
$17 million to keep 57 NYCHA centers open including the Manhattanville and Douglass Senior Centers
$3.25 million for helping renters fight off eviction in housing court
140 police officers from the next class will be assigned to the NYCHA
$6.25 million will allow all middle schoolers to receive free lunch starting in September
$10 million to create additional child care vouchers for low-income families to ensure parents have access to quality child care