c. Martin Seck

Looking to Summer in NYC Parks

May 12, 2020

What will this summer look like for New York City parks? A recent report issued by a coalition of 20 parks and open space partner groups anticipates a steep decline in funding that will impact the basic maintenance and upkeep of our parks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the findings from the 20 park partner groups:

  • An anticipated decrease in funding for parks groups of up to 68% for 2020, which will translate into at least $37 million fewer dollars invested into New York City’s public spaces. 
  • A combination of staff cuts and social distancing measures will result in 40,000 lost hours of park maintenance and 110,000 lost hours of horticultural care citywide.
  • Approximately 542,000 trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals will not be planted in 2020 as a result of this diminished capacity.

Read the full impact report, which was also reported in The Wall Street Journal.

“In these unprecedented times, our parks are one of the few places open to our community,” said Sue Donoghue, President of Prospect Park Alliance. “We all need to do our part to help keep up with increased usage in the face of significant challenges. It is critical for all New Yorkers to have access to safe, clean parks, today and in the challenging times ahead.”

During New York State on PAUSE, the city’s parks have become even more essential to New Yorkers for mental and physical health. This summer, the city’s parks anticipate a huge increase in patrons, especially with the closure of public pools and uncertainty of whether beaches will be open. Under normal circumstances, parks would be hiring seasonal workers for this high season to keep up with the influx of visitors. Unfortunately, without sufficient funding to offset the decline in its operating budgets, New York City’s parks will be negatively impacted this summer and for years to come.

NYC’s parks conservancies and nonprofits were originally formed to bridge a major gap of resources after the fiscal crisis in the 1970’s that left the city’s parks in a severely deteriorated and unsafe condition. Now, citywide, independent groups support the New York City’s Parks Department in managing 15,000+ acres of parkland and green space–50% of NYC’s public green space–and employ 500+ full-time staff, hundreds of seasonal workers, and 100,000+ volunteers to help care for the parks. Collectively, the partner groups invest private funds of over $150 million annually in public land. The groups also fund countless community programs each year and support local initiatives that encourage healthy living, an active space for children and families, and a respite for millions of New Yorkers.

The following organizations were surveyed for this report: Alliance for Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Bronx River Alliance, City Parks Foundation, Freshkills Park Alliance, The Friends of Governors Island, Friends of the High Line, Gowanus Canal Conservancy, Hudson River Park Friends, Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, Madison Square Park Conservancy, Natural Areas Conservancy, New Yorkers for Parks, New York Restoration Project, North Brooklyn Parks Alliance, Prospect Park Alliance, Randall’s Island Park Alliance, Riverside Park Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, Van Cortlandt Park Alliance, Washington Square Park Conservancy.

Looking to make a difference? Add your signature to the New Yorkers for Parks Play Fair campaign petition, which seeks to add $47 million to the city’s budget for parks and open spaces. Learn more on the New Yorkers for Parks website.

Want to become part of the driving force that keeps Brooklyn’s Backyard green and vibrant? Consider becoming a Prospect Park Alliance member today and enjoy discounted rates for a limited time.