*Reposted from Gotham Gazette. Written by Samar Khurshid  (photo: Erica Sherman/Brooklyn BP's Office)*

When he was running for the position and since becoming Mayor, Eric Adams publicly committed to increasing the budget for the Department of Parks and Recreation to 1% of the total city operating budget, which would mean nearly $1 billion annually. But as he presented his first budget plan this past week, an $98.5 billion spending plan for the next fiscal year, Adams failed to follow through on that pledge, only allocating about half that funding and even cutting the parks budget compared to the current fiscal year.

The coronavirus pandemic forced many of the city’s neighborhood inequities into the open air, in some ways literally. It exposed the dearth of green space in some of the same communities that were hardest hit by the virus, in stark contrast with wealthier neighborhoods where residents flocked outdoors with easy access. Adams was among the many elected officials who recognized that imbalance and signed on to the “Percent for Parks” pledge, a campaign led by the advocacy group New Yorkers for Parks.

Hundreds of millions in additional funding would help hire more full-time staff for the parks department, rather than relying on seasonal staffing, and ensure routine maintenance and repairs across the 30,000 acres of parks and open space in the city, as well as city beaches, swimming pools, ice rinks, playgrounds, dog runs, and recreation centers, among other facilities. More funding and staff could also make parks safer – currently, there are only about 47 Urban Park Rangers and fewer than 300 Parks Enforcement Patrol officers employed by the city.

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