Queens councilman joins new ‘Play Fair Coalition’ for increased Parks Department funding

Photo by New Yorkers for Parks

City Councilman Barry Grodenchik joined nearly 200 New Yorkers, environmental activists, advocacy groups and unions on the steps of City Hall Thursday to introduce a newly formed parks advocacy coalition.

Members of the Play Fair Coalition, which includes the Queens councilman and Parks and Recreation Committee Chair, New Yorkers for Parks, New York League of Conservation Voters, D.C. 37 and over 60 other parks and open space advocacy groups, demanded that the city provide an additional $100 million for parks and green spaces.

The coalition introduced the Play Fair campaign, a new multi-year campaign leading up to the 2021 mayoral election that seeks to improve the quality of New York City parks, address climate change, and create green jobs.

According to the coalition, parkland comprises 14 percent of all city land but the Parks Department received only 0.59 percent of the city budget in the current fiscal year. They added that the 1970s was the last time Parks received at least 1 percent of the city budget.

In their new proposal, the Play Fair Coalition asked that the city invest $100 million, or 0.10 percent, into the City Parks expense budget.

“For more than a generation, parks have been shortchanged in the city budget,” said Grodenchik. “Across our city, in all five boroughs, in every neighborhood, parks are the places where New Yorkers play, exercise, and breathe fresh air, the places where we clear our minds, rejuvenate our bodies, and refresh our spirits.”

Under the Play Fair campaign, the coalition detailed how $100 million could be effectively used for parks and other green spaces across the city:

  • $10 million means that once and for all, 100 city park workers and 50 gardeners will have secure, stable green jobs
  • $4 million means that NYC’s forests have the investment they need to protect NYC from climate change
  • $65 million would provide funding for parks of all sizes to have full-time, dedicated staff to help keep things clean and green
  • A little over $8 million would fund improvements for every GreenThumb community garden in the city
  • $4 million means that every neighborhood in the city could have more seasonal afterschool programs and movie nights
  • $9 million means that natural areas and parks are preserved, protected and made safer for New Yorkers

“Since taking on the role of parks chair last year, I have visited over a hundred parks in over two thirds of the council districts across the city and have seen that while our parks department does an outstanding job with current funding, parks need more resources to be as clean, safe, and well maintained as they should be,” said Grodenchik. “As a lifelong New Yorker who grew up spending countless hours in my local park and continue to visit parks whenever I can, I am proud to be part of the Play Fair coalition that is advocating for a one-hundred-million-dollar increase in the parks budget.”

“As a lifelong New Yorker I am heartened to have been joined today at City Hall with hundreds of other park supporters who love their city as much as I do,” said Lynn Kelly, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks. “Together, we need to make history with the City’s budget and finally, #PlayFair for parks!”

Other Queens representatives who attended the Feb. 28 rally include Councilmembers Paul Vallone, Adrienne Adams, Costa Constantinides, Donovan Richards and Robert Holden.