Opening Statement: Chair, Committee on Parks and Recreation

Good Afternoon, I am Mark Levine, Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Parks & Recreation.  And I want to welcome you to our hearing on the issue of equity in New York City’s park system.

To understand this issue we have to begin with a little history.  For most of the past century New York City robustly funded its green spaces, helping to make it arguably the nation’s premier urban park system.  In the 1960s the City devoted a healthy one-and-a-half percent of its budget to the Parks Department, but the financial crisis of the 1970s forced severe cutbacks in this funding.  By 1986 parks had fallen to just 0.86% of the budget, and the resulting lack of maintenance and staffing turned city parks into places which many New Yorkers sought to avoid.  

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