After months of budgetary discord, Mayor de Blasio has announced an ambitious plan aimed at renovating 35 forgotten parks around New York City. The park equity plan, called Community Parks Initiative, comes with a $130 million budget and will give a long list of unkempt green spaces in low-income neighborhoods an injection of funds for much-needed repairs, maintenance and landscaping services. The announcement comes after months of debate on how to best address the wide budget disparities seen throughout New York’s expansive park system.
Under the new plan, parks that have had little to no investment in recent years would share funds from the Community Parks Initiative, improving the poor infrastructure of the local parks and substantially bettering community health. Lack of proper green space and open areas has had a noticeable impact on locals in the area for years. Underfunded, high-trafficked community areas such as Ranaqua Park in the Bronx and Saratoga Ballfields in Brooklyn typically have high obesity and asthma rates among local residents.
De Blasio said that the new initiative is a major step in addressing the inequality among NYC parks. “Parks are one of the great treasures in New York City. But it’s also another example of inequalities that have plagued this city over time. Some parks did very, very well—other parks didn’t.”
Although the park initiative has been on the table since the last mayoral election, debate over private or public funding has raged for months. Under the new plan, public funding, not private dollars, would make up the new park budget. However, there is still contention over whether or not the mayor has plans to force park conservancies to give a percentage of their operating funds to lower income parks in the future.
Mark D. Levine, Chairman of the parks committee, commended the plan. “The money is not enough to touch every park in the system, but it will have a transformative impact on these parks,” he said. “It largely answers the question of whether we’ll solve the equity problem through public investment or taking money from the conservancies.”
Via NY Times
Images Via NYC Parks