Opening Statement on Intro 154: A Bill to Improve Parks Maintenance Reporting

COMMITTEE ON PARKS AND RECREATION

PROPOSED INT. 154-2015

JUNE 19, 2015

HON. MARK D. LEVINE, CHAIR

OPENING  STATEMENT

Good Afternoon. My name is Mark Levine, and I am the Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Parks & Recreation. I want to welcome you to our hearing on Proposed Int. No. 154-A, whose lead sponsor is my colleague Council Member Brad Lander. This bill would require the Parks Department (DPR) to provide an annual report to the Mayor and Council on maintenance spending on a park-by-park basis, and would require regular online posting of  updates regarding capital projects.

 

In February the Council passed, and the mayor signed, Local Law 16 in order to answer the first question. This law, which Council Member Lander and I co-sponsored, establishes regular, uniform reporting for conservancies of the amount of private funding they received.

The legislation we are taking up today seeks to answer the second critical question.  

The Parks Department has steadily improved the overall level of maintenance of our City’s parks in recent years--a particularly impressive feat in light of the department’s stagnating expense budget.

But anyone who has visited a variety of parks across the five boroughs knows that the quality of conditions varies widely from park to park. There are many possible explanations for this, including variable rates of usage, different types of terrain, and differing histories of capital investment.  

Intro. 154-A seeks to shed light on another possible explanation for the variation in park conditions: differing levels of maintenance resources expended by the department.

Specifically this bill would require DPR to submit an annual report to the Council on maintenance work performed at each property under its jurisdiction on or before December 1 of each year. This report would include:

  • whether each park has permanent or mobile maintenance staff assigned to it,

  • the weekly average and dollar value of work-hours performed by maintenance staff at each property on a quarterly basis, and

  • the total weekly average dollar value of specific maintenance services provided at each property.

We understand that the challenge of determining cost allocation in any organization is significant--even well-funded corporations often struggle with this.  And we know that the Parks Department is still developing its system for tracking and analyzing expenditures on a per-park basis.  So intro 154-A would allow the DPR commissioner, upon 30 days notice to the Mayor and the Council, to amend the data included in the report as its systems evolve. The bill also allows DPR to phase in reporting over the next two years.

Finally, Intro 154-A would give the public additional information on Parks Capital projects, to be posted at least quarterly on the department’s website.

I look forward to our discussion of Proposed Intro 154-A, and to moving this important legislation forward. I’d now like to invite Council Member Lander to present opening remarks on the bill.

 

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