Mayor’s budget cuts threaten funds for city parks staffing and maintenance

City Hall, NY – With a looming June 30 city budget deadline, New York City Council leaders were joined by parks advocates at Morningside Park to rally for the restoration of funding to the city’s public parks, which have faced cuts in the mayor’s proposed budget. Council Members and advocates called on Mayor Adams’ Administration to restore funding for the Parks Department, including to support second-shift positions that are critical for maintaining safety and cleanliness at 100 hot spots in more than 60 city parks. Over 500 organizations support this effort as part of New Yorkers for Parks’ Play Fair Coalition.

The Administration’s continued budget cuts to city parks would result in overflowing trash cans, unopened and uncleaned bathrooms, and less support for community gardens and other spaces, as well as less jobs that provide stability and opportunities for workers.

The Council has repeatedly called for the restoration of funding for critical staff and programs for the Department of Parks and Recreation. Specifically, the Council urged 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.

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.

The livestream of the rally can be found here. Photos can be found here.

“Our city’s parks are essential to the health and well-being of New Yorkers in every neighborhood,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “Parks serve as a refuge for our communities, providing opportunities for people of all ages to exercise, get fresh air, and spend time with friends and neighbors. To ensure our precious green spaces are maintained and cleaned, our city must restore funding for the Parks Department, including for second-shift positions that are critical for upkeep at over 60 neighborhood parks. The Council will continue to prioritize the investments our parks need and ensuring they have the workforce to keep them clean.”

“Parks are the heart of our city, vital for community well-being and environmental health,” said Council Member Shekar Krishnan, Chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation. “While we in the New York City Council and advocates have tirelessly highlighted their importance, the Mayor continues to cut their funding. But these are funds that make sure our parks remain clean, safe, and resilient for all New Yorkers. They are the funds that make sure Parks workers keep their jobs. And they are the funds the Mayor promised to allocate when he campaigned. Yet his budget proposal falls far short, jeopardizing the very spaces that so many rely on every day. It’s time this City Hall recognize the value of parks for all of us and invest in them.”

“Like all New Yorkers, I have made a lifetime of memories in our city’s parks,” said Council Member Shaun Abreu. “I grew up spending time in Riverside Park with my family; I went for long walks through Morningside Park as a college student; and I launched my campaign for City Council surrounded by loved ones in Sakura Park. Cutting our parks budget does nothing but make our cherished green spaces less clean and less safe for everyone. Mayor Adams: you must reverse these cuts.”

“New Yorkers for Parks and the 400+ organizations in the Play Fair Coalition for Parks applaud the speaker and the city council for their strong stance in demanding full restoration of the parks budget,” said Adam Ganser, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks. “At a time when New Yorkers are depending on our parks system more than ever before for health, recreation, and to get relief from excess heat, it is critical that we invest in these spaces.  New Yorkers deserve a safe, clean, green, resilient, and equitable parks system.  These budget cuts will ensure the opposite. It’s time not only to roll back these cuts, but for this administration to follow through on its commitment to allocate 1% of the city budget for parks.”

“City parks are unique in that they are critical to both climate resilience in the face of extreme weather – like the dangerous excess heat we are experiencing now – and community resilience where nature and open space are lacking,” said Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “We are proud to stand with Speaker Adams and the city council in support of these essential green spaces. Now it’s time for Mayor Adams to step up and be the pro-parks mayor he promised us he’d be by reversing his proposed cuts and moving us closer to allocating 1% of the city budget for parks.”

“Funding for the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, who takes care of nearly 2,000 public spaces and 53% of the entire New York City urban forest, is incredibly urgent amidst the extreme heat. Despite a projected growth in the overall city budget, the budget for NYC Parks is still confoundingly expected to be slashed,” said Tami Lin-Moges, Interim Director of the New York Cities Program at The Nature Conservancy. “Cutting funding to NYC Parks would only worsen the problem of urban heat and put more New Yorkers in danger. We urge the Mayor to restore funding for NYC’s green spaces and to invest at least 1% of the City budget to maintain our much-needed parks.

“All of us at City Parks Foundation are deeply concerned about the state of the Parks Department’s budget, which is still slated for a large cut, rather than the increase that is desperately needed to just keep pace with the system’s vast needs,” said Heather Lubov, Executive Director of the City Parks Foundation. “We can see firsthand how these cuts are having a significant and negative impact on the park system and on our ability to serve New Yorkers. Parks are dirtier and less safe, permits take longer to approve, more and more maintenance is deferred. We all experienced the critical role that parks played during the pandemic, with New Yorkers flocking to their parks for respite, relief, and relaxation.  That demand has not slowed. With climate change looming, parks become increasingly critical by the day.  I urge the city to restore funding for the Parks Department and get us on a path to 1% of the city budget.”

“As president of Prospect Park Alliance and co-chair of Parks and Open Space Partners, a coalition of 50 nonprofits dedicated to stewarding our City’s public spaces, I want to thank the City Council, including Speaker Adrienne Adams, Finance Chair Justin Brannan and Parks Chair Shekar Krishnan, for their commitment to our city’s park system,” said Morgan Monaco, President of the Prospect Park Alliance. “New York City is facing unprecedented challenges that demand innovative solutions and collective action, and parks are a critical part of the solution. The pandemic proved how parks are lifelines for New Yorkers, offering safe havens for socializing, exercising and connecting with nature. Our parks provide critical infrastructure to combat the ill effects of climate change. Yet, at a time when our parks are needed most, the proposed 5% budget cut threatens the health of our green spaces but also the wellbeing of millions of New Yorkers. We stand with the City Council to support the restoration of the NYC Parks budget, and the larger goal of 1% of the City budget for Parks.”

“Parks and public spaces are the foundation of communities. Freely accessible open spaces are where we form the connections and friendships with our neighbors that are the basis of “community,” said Rosa Chang, Co-Founder and President of Gotham Park. “New Yorkers live on top of each other, often in postage stamp size apartments. We do it because the city is our kitchen, our dining room, and parks are our shared living rooms, our back yards, our porches. It is where our lives are lived, where our children can play, learn, share, and meet people outside our little bubbles. Community is not built in our apartments. It is built in our glorious public parks. Funding our parks funds people, our mental, social and physical health. Parks are an upstream solution to many downstream problems. It is time we invest upstream.”