City Hall, NY – Today, the Council voted on Introduction 173-A, requiring the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to develop standards for inspecting the quality of various features of parks or playgrounds under its jurisdiction and issue a report to the Mayor and Council that would identify any such features that have routinely been given an unacceptable rating after having been inspected by DPR.
The bill, sponsored by Council Member Shekar Krishnan, would then require that the DPR submit a plan to the Council on how the issues for such park or playground features will be corrected.
This legislation would be a step towards addressing inequities in access to quality parks for New Yorkers, which have been a long-term issue further exacerbated and exposed during the pandemic. The Parks Committee recently held an oversight hearing that focused attention on data demonstrating significant inequities related to parks across the City, especially emerging during the pandemic. According to the Independent Budget Office (IBO) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL), New Yorkers in predominantly low-income neighborhoods and communities of color lack equitable access to parks and playgrounds, and their few neighborhood parks are too often inadequately maintained. Lagging park budgets and deficient staffing levels have left the Department of Parks and Recreation ill-equipped to maintain its parks over the years, despite recommended maintenance needs increasing exponentially – these rose 143 percent between fiscal years 2006 and 2016 to $34 million, but only 12 percent of the latter year’s maintenance needs were fulfilled. Large destination parks that tend to be located in wealthier parts of the City have historically benefited from conservancies that attract large private donations that support their maintenance and management. Meanwhile parks in underserved communities have been left under-maintained by stagnant public funding of parks. The disparities in access to parks overlap with neighborhoods most impacted by initial COVID-19 case and death rates.
With this legislation, DPR will be mandated to publicly release the condition of parks and playgrounds that make the specific disparities across the City’s park system more transparent, and provide the plans required to improve these critical public spaces in all neighborhoods.
“Throughout the pandemic and beyond, our city’s parks and playgrounds continue to be a refuge and haven for all New Yorkers,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “However, we know not all of our beloved open spaces are in the same condition. Low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are home to a disproportionate number of parks and playgrounds that deserve better maintenance and care. This legislation provides transparency about the disparities in parks maintenance, and is a first step towards our goal of advancing equity that ensures all New Yorkers have access to quality parks. I thank Chair Krishnan for his leadership on this critical legislation.”
“This legislation will expose a truth that many families in New York City already know: while parks in some neighborhoods are beautiful, restorative places, in other neighborhoods they are dirty, under-maintained, and overlooked for repairs, routinely failing inspections,” said Council Member Shekar Krishnan, the bill’s sponsor and Chair of the Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee. “Every New Yorker — regardless of where they live or how much money they have — deserves a clean, safe, well-maintained park in their community. Parks equity is a critical priority for this Council under the leadership of Speaker Adams. This bill reflects that commitment and I’m proud to see it enacted today.”
The Council will also vote on two resolutions concerning our City’s veterans.
Resolution 21, sponsored by Council Member Eric Dinowitz, calls on the State Legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign S.2279, sponsored by Senator Daphne Jordan, and its companion bill, A. 7961, sponsored by Assembly Member Jake Ashby, designating the State of New York a Purple Heart State. Currently, there are forty-two municipalities, twelve counties, six colleges and universities, six Purple Heart Trail Routes, and six other various locations that already have the Purple Heart designation within the state. For example, in 2015, the New York City Council issued a proclamation declaring New York City a Purple Heart City.
By adopting the Purple Heart designation on a statewide basis, New York State can take another critical step in recognizing the heroic sacrifices our nation’s service members have made in order to protect our country.
“Resolution 21 will not only honor our heroes by reaffirming 2015’s decision of declaring New York a Purple Heart City but will also call on the state legislature to pass and the governor to sign S2279/A7961 to make New York state a Purple Heart State,” says Council Member Eric Dinowitz, the resolution’s prime sponsor. “We owe great respect to those who risked their lives to serve our country and we must distinguish them for their meritorious actions. There are more than 210,000 veterans in New York City and this resolution recognizes their heroic sacrifices. I thank Chair Holden for his support and committee staff Bianca Vitale and Elizabeth Artz for their incredible work on this resolution.”
Resolution 41, sponsored by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, calls on the United States Congress to pass, and the President to sign, legislation that would allow service members, veterans and eligible surviving spouses to use the home loans backed by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs to purchase residential cooperative housing units.
Without the option of cooperative housing, using VA loans may not be a realistic option for many veterans in New York City where co-ops often account for a sizable share of the available housing stock. Extending the VA loan benefits to the purchasers of residential cooperative housing units would be a boon for New York veterans.
The Council also voted on the following:
Second Avenue Subway Phase 2 MTA Disposition, Manhattan – Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) seeks approval for the transfer of city-owned property from HPD to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), to facilitate the future construction of a station entrance and ancillary structure for the 125th Street station of the Second Avenue SubwayPhase 2 project, in Deputy SpeakerDiana Ayala’s district.
Mount Neboh-Mount Carmel Cemetery Merger Request – Mount Carmel Cemetery submitted a request pursuant to Section 1506(c) of the New York State Not-For-Profit Corporation Law for approval of its merger with the adjacent Mount Neboh Cemetery. This will result in Mount Carmel Cemetery taking responsibility of maintenance of Mount Neboh Cemetery, in Council Member Robert Holden’s district.
The Council also voted on the following:
Transparency Resolution #12 of Fiscal Year 2022, sponsored by Council Member Justin Brannan — Approving the new designation and changes in the designation of certain organizations receiving funding in the Expense Budget.