Opening Remarks at the Parks Committee's FY 2018 Executive Budget Hearing

Council Member Mark D. Levine, Chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation

Opening Statement at the Fiscal Year 2018 Executive Budget Hearing -- May 18, 2017

Good afternoon, and welcome to the Parks and Recreation Committee’s Hearing on the Fiscal Year 2018 Executive Budget for the Department of Parks and Recreation. My name is Mark Levine and I am the Chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee.

In keeping with the budget process mandated by the City Charter that will ultimately lead to the adoption of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, today we will hear testimony from the Department of Parks and Recreation on its Expense and Capital Budgets for Fiscal Year 2018.

During our Preliminary Budget hearing in March, we called for a robust parks budget to meet the needs of the city’s growing population at a time with park use is surging.  We specifically called for:

  • 80 PEP officers to address the recent uptick in parks crime;

  • 50 new Urban Park Rangers;  

  • 10 new outreach coordinators for Partnership for Parks; and

  • Funding to permanently expand the City’s beach and pool season by a week beyond Labor Day.

Unfortunately, none of these needs were addressed in the executive budget.

Most egregiously of all, the executive budget fails to baseline $9.7 million for critical park maintenance workers, which would lead to a loss of 50 gardeners and 100 CPWs who would be laid off as of June 30th--depriving our parks of sorely needed staffing, and depriving 150 hard-working New Yorkers of their livelihood.  These workers are critical to the success of the Community Parks Initiative--a key administration priority--so the fact that again this year it falls on the Council to save these positions is proof that the budget dance has indeed returned.  

In total, the executive budget proposes a reduction in headcount of 183 positions.  There was some confusion on this point at our last hearing so I want to be clear: the budget as adopted last year included 7,646 full-time equivalent positions for the Parks Department.  The budget now being proposed by the administration would reduce this to 7,463 positions.  We need to understand what impact these cuts will have on our parks system.

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Opening Statement at the Parks Committee's Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Hearing

HON. MARK D. LEVINE, CHAIR of the COMMITTEE ON PARKS AND RECREATION
OPENING STATEMENT
FISCAL 2018 PRELIMINARY BUDGET HEARING -- March 21, 2017


Good morning, and welcome to the Parks and Recreation Committee’s Hearing on the Fiscal Year 2018 Preliminary Budget and the Fiscal Year 2017 Preliminary Mayor’s Management Report for the Department of Parks and Recreation. My name is Mark Levine and I am the Chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee.

In keeping with the budget process mandated by the City Charter that will ultimately lead to the adoption of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, today we will hear testimony from the Department of Parks and Recreation on its Expense and Capital Budgets for Fiscal Year 2018.

Park use in New York City is surging. There are now 42 million visitors per year in Central Park alone--double the number of who visit Disney World.  Over 7 million people visit the High Line annually and 5 million visit Bryant Park. On a peak summer weekend, 127,000 visit Brooklyn Bridge Park.
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Remarks at the Announcement of Universal Access to Counsel in Housing Court

New York City Council Member Mark Levine
Remarks at the Announcement of Universal Access to Counsel in Housing Court
Sunday, February 12th, 2017
Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School

Thank you Mr. Mayor and team--especially commissioner Banks--for your support of this legislation, and for your steadfast commitment to using every tool.

And Madam Speaker, you have done more to advance the cause of civil justice than any speaker in history, and I am thrilled that we are doing it again here today in such a big way.

For decades, housing court in this city has failed to meet a basic standard of justice.  Because in eviction proceedings nearly all landlords have had attorneys and the vast majority of tenants have not.  That is by definition an uneven playing field and the results predictably have been disastrous for tenants: over 20,000 families evicted a year.

A painfully high number of these families land in our homeless shelters.  And all too often the apartments they are evicted from leave rent regulation to become market rate forever.

New York City’s eviction epidemic is a tragedy on so many levels.

But today that starts to change.

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Opening Statement Committee on Parks and Recreation “Parks Capital Projects”

COMMITTEE ON PARKS AND RECREATION

AN EXAMINATION OF PARKS DEPARTMENT PROPERTIES CURRENTLY INACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC

Int 407: A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to notice of changes to capital projects implemented by the department of parks and recreation.

AND

Int 1340:A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to work performed on parks department capital projects

JANUARY 19, 2017

HON. MARK D. LEVINE

OPENING  STATEMENT

Good afternoon. My name is Mark Levine and I am the Chair of the Council’s Committee on Parks and Recreation.

At this hearing, the committee will examine the Parks Department’s capital process, and will consider two bills which would improve public reporting on this process: Intro 407, whose lead sponsor is Councilmember Jimmy Vacca, and Intro 1340, whose lead sponsor is Councilmember Ritchie Torres.

There is no issue under the purview of this committee, and few issues in the Council as a whole, which elicits as much consternation and dismay among my colleagues as the parks capital process.

Dog runs which take five years to complete. Comfort stations which cost more than $2 million.  Budgets that grow by hundreds of thousands of dollars after their initial cost estimates.

Nearly every Council Member has their share of such stories, and we’ll hear about many of them today.

Commissioner Silver has heard these concerns, and he deserves credit for placing a high priority on improving the department’s capital process.  And it’s important that in this hearing we will not rehash the greatest hits of problem projects that took place under the previous administration. That’s why we will focus exclusively on the past three years, in an effort to understand the state of the capital process today.

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Testimony before Landmarks Preservation Commission on the Morningside Heights Historic District

LANDMARKS PRESERVATION COMMISSION

TESTIMONY  ON THE MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS HISTORIC DISTRICT

DECEMBER 6, 2016

HON. MARK D. LEVINE

Good morning, my name is Mark Levine, and I am the Council Member for the 7th District in Northern Manhattan. I am here today to speak in favor of designation of a portion of the Morningside Heights neighborhood as an Historic District.

Morningside Heights is defined by its history more than almost any other neighborhood in New York City. Its status as a bastion of public institutions dates from 200 years ago, when the New York Society Hospital’s Bloomingdale Insane Asylum relocated there. Today Morningside Heights is home to more world-class academic, cultural, religious, and medical institutions than any neighborhood in America.

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Opening Statement on An Examination of Parks Department Properties Currently Inaccessible to the Public

COMMITTEE ON PARKS AND RECREATION

AN EXAMINATION OF PARKS DEPARTMENT PROPERTIES CURRENTLY INACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC

DECEMBER 1, 2016

HON. MARK D. LEVINE

OPENING  STATEMENT

Good Afternoon, I am Mark Levine, Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Parks & Recreation.  I want to welcome you to our hearing on increasing access to sites within the parks system that are now partially or fully closed to the public.

At a time when City parks usage is surging, and New Yorkers’ appetite for discovery and exploration is as great as ever, we have many assets in our park system which are untapped and underused.

Soaring monuments to heroes of long-ago wars.  Engineering marvels from centuries past. Uninhabited Islands featuring picturesque ruins and untamed nature.  New York City’s park system is home to all this and more.  

Whether underground, in the sky, or out on the water, these sites offer unparalleled opportunities for New Yorkers to connect to our history, to learn about the origins of our infrastructure, and to simply see our city from an amazing new perspective--literally and figuratively. 

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Opening Statement on Right to Counsel Bill

COMMITTEE ON COURTS AND LEGAL SERVICES

PROPOSED INT. 214-2014

SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

HON. MARK D. LEVINE

OPENING  STATEMENT

The incredible turnout here is a testament to the seriousness of the issue we are addressing today.  We are here to address a crisis. That crisis is the threat of eviction faced by tens of thousands of tenants, our fellow New Yorkers, who are on an incredibly uneven playing field in a place where the standard should be fairness.

But there is no fairness in an eviction proceeding when the landlord has an attorney and the tenant does not.  And that sadly is precisely the situation faced by the vast majority of tenants today.

The results of this injustice are predictable: an epidemic of evictions - 22,000 last year alone.

The good news is we know how to bring that painfully high number down.

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Opening Statement on Mayor's Parks Executive Budget

COMMITTEE ON PARKS AND RECREATION AND FINANCE COMMITTEE

FISCAL YEAR 2017 EXECUTIVE BUDGET HEARING

May 20, 2016

HON. MARK D. LEVINE, CHAIR

OPENING  STATEMENT

Good morning. I would like to welcome everyone to today’s joint hearing of the Finance and Parks and Recreation Committees on the Fiscal 2017 Executive Budget for the Department of Parks and Recreation. My name is Mark Levine and I am the Chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee.

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Opening Statement on Parks Preliminary Budget

COMMITTEE ON PARKS AND RECREATION

FISCAL 2017 PRELIMINARY BUDGET HEARING

March 3, 2016

 HON. MARK D. LEVINE, CHAIR

 OPENING  STATEMENT

Good morning, and welcome to the Parks and Recreation Committee’s Hearing on the Fiscal 2017 Preliminary Budget and the Fiscal 2016 Preliminary Mayor’s Management Report for the Department of Parks and Recreation. My name is Mark Levine and I am the Chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee.

 

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Opening Statement on Bill to Mitigate Park Shadows from Supertall Towers

COMMITTEE ON PARKS AND RECREATION

PROPOSED INT. 737-2015

NOVEMBER 12, 2015

HON. MARK D. LEVINE, CHAIR

OPENING  STATEMENT

Good Morning, I am Mark Levine, Chair of the Committee on Parks & Recreation.  At today’s hearing we will focus on Int. No. 737, a bill that would require the creation of an inter-agency task force to study the effect of shadows cast by tall buildings over City parkland.  

 

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