Mayor’s FY25 Executive Budget failed to restore funds for city parks

City Hall, NY – Ahead of today’s City Council’s Executive Budget hearing held by the Committee on Parks and Recreation and the Committee on Finance, the Council called for baselined restoration of funding for critical staff and programs for the Department of Parks and Recreation. Specifically, the Council urged baselined funding restorations to support the city parks workforce that has been reduced by the mayor’s budget cuts, threatening the maintenance of parks in neighborhoods across the city.  The Council also called for investment into a new employment initiative that could fund seasonal Parks Department positions that help underemployed communities enter the workforce and strengthen the quality of city parks.

These critical priorities were outlined by the Council in its Preliminary Budget Response released in April, but were left out of the Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2025 Executive Budget.

Restoring the Parks Workforce

The Council has called for a funding restoration of $38.2 million to bring back 659 Parks Department positions lost due to the mayor’s budget cuts and citywide hiring freeze. These positions can ensure there are available staff to improve and maintain the quality of city parks, maintaining green spaces and keeping them safe for all New Yorkers.

Funding Park Rangers, Forestry Maintenance, Tree Stump Removal, and the GreenThumb Program

The Council has called for the restoration and baselining of $11.2 millionfor Park Rangers, Forestry Maintenance, Tree Stump Removal and the GreenThumb Program. Urban Park Rangers are vital to the daily operation of parks by advancing environmental education, outdoor recreational activities, conservation efforts, and more. Forestry maintenance and tree stump removal are essential to the upkeep of green spaces. The GreenThumb program provides critical support to community gardens across our city, helping them become hubs of gardening and urban farming.

Restoring Second Shift Positions for 100 Hot Spots

The Council has called for a $10 million restoration and baselining of Second Shift positions to facilitate the cleaning of hot spots in our parks. These workers provide additional support help keep more than 100 ‘hot spots’ across 61 parks in New York City clean and safe. Without this funding, these positions will be reduced, and parks will be dirtier and less safe.

New Employment Initiative to Increase Parks Workers

The Council has called for$50.5 million in funding for a new employment initiative, in partnership with DC 37, to provide pathways to jobs and career advancement in city agencies. It would include a track for underemployed communities and populations to enter the workforce initially through seasonal positions at city agencies, including the Parks Department, to build work experience that increases their overall employment prospects. By providing additional work opportunities to underemployed New Yorkers, young people, and eligible asylum seekers, the City can support its green spaces while advancing economic opportunities.

“New Yorkers know that parks and playgrounds, rec centers and green spaces are vital for the health and resilience of our communities,” Council Member Shekar Krishnan, Chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation. “The Mayor’s proposed NYC Parks budget does not meet the needs of our city. Under Speaker Adams’ leadership, the Council will keep fighting for full funding to keep our parks clean and green, and to protect the good-paying jobs within our parks.”

“Our public parks aren’t just crucial to our social fabric as spaces to gather, relax, and get a quick break – they are also central assets to public health, resiliency, and sustainability in our city,” said Council Member Justin Brannan, Chair of the Committee on Finance. “Since I started in the Council I have been proud secure dozens of millions of dollars for parks and playgrounds in our district. We need to fight not just to improve our parks themselves, but to make sure the Department is fully staffed so we can keep our parks clean, take care of our city trees, and deliver free family programming in our communities.”

“City parks are unique in that they are critical to both climate resilience in the face of extreme weather and community resilience where nature and open space are lacking, contributing to dangerous excess heat,” said Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “Speaker Adams and the city council have been steadfast supporters of our green spaces, and now with budget negotiations coming to a head, it’s time for Mayor Adams to step up and claim his legacy as a pro-parks mayor by reversing his proposed budget cuts and fully funding our parks and green spaces.”

“The Mayor’s proposed budget for FY25 would continue devastating disinvestment in New Yorkers our city’s Parks Department – hamstringing the agency’s ability to do even basic maintenance of the city’s parks and green spaces,” said Adam Ganser, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks. “The impacts of continued budget cuts to parks are wide-reaching; this is fundamentally an issue of equity, public health and safety. All New Yorkers deserve safe and clean green spaces, pools, playgrounds, beaches, and recreation centers that are properly maintained and staffed. We implore the Mayor to do the right thing and ensure the Parks Department receives crucially-needed investment.”

“For decades, we’ve witnessed the depletion of resources allocated to our park system,” said Henry Garrido, Executive Director of District Council 37. “Budget cuts, hiring freezes, and attrition threaten the staffing levels of our parks, further reducing the availability of safe, clean green spaces for New Yorkers and visitors alike, as well as the security of over 200 Parks staff set to lose their jobs in July. We urge the Mayor and City Council to allocate 1% of the budget to the Parks department.”