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Gioia floats Council bill to list parks’ status online

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The legislation, which was discussed at a hearing at City Hall last week, would require the city Parks Department to post online information relating to health, safety and cleanliness at the more than 1,500 outdoor recreational areas administered by the agency."Our 1,700 parks, beaches and playgrounds are an oasis for over eight million New Yorkers," Gioia said Friday at a news conference in Sunnyside's Noonan Park. By harnessing the power of the Internet to make information on the spaces more readily available, Gioia said he hopes to increase government efficiency and public involvement.In 2004, Gioia conducted an investigation that showed New Yorkers have no way to determine when the parks and beaches they use were last cleaned or inspected."We're trying to make government work better," Gioia said. "It's 21st century technology and private sector smarts." He said his bill suggests a model of Web-based transparency he would like to see applied to other agencies as well.At the Feb. 14 public hearing in City Hall, the Parks Department said similar information to what Gioia's bill calls for was to be posted online by March. Gioia said that by enacting the legislation the City Council would ensure that the information would remain available to the public well into the future.The Parks Department already collects the data, Gioia said, meaning there would be no additional financial burden on the agency. The Parks Department did not return phone calls requesting comment.Alison Farina, director of government and community affairs for New Yorkers for Parks, applauded the bill."This law is fantastic because park users can now see how their park rates right on the Web site," she said.Vanessa Branco, of Sunnyside's United Forties Civic Association, also supported the measure."We'll have faster access to find out what's going on in our local community," Branco said, "and what better place to do that than in our parks?"Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

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