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CB 13, pols slam plan for only one seasonal parks worker

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Community Board 13 can usually expect to see between eight and 10 seasonal city Parks Department workers for the summer and spring.

But this year one, according to CB 13 Parks Committee Chairman Peter Richards.

Last week, the board approved a letter it plans to send to elected officials representing the area to “fight for a higher number of workers in the fiscal budget.”

“This board in your district comprises 12 percent of the entire borough, and our parks will be overgrown and in disrepair if this travesty is allowed to go forth,” the letter read.

“The city is in the midst of a severe fiscal crisis, and all agencies are required to reduce spending and increase revenues,” Parks said in a statement. “District 13 has to cut two maintenance staffers from its team, but through careful coordination, Queens Parks has distributed workers throughout the borough to do more with less.”

City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) said the situation was “obviously distressing.

“We want to make sure our parks are maintained properly,” the councilman said.

His colleague, City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) said he would make an effort to get more seasonal workers but could not make any promises that it would become a reality.

“It’s a budget issue and we’re going to do everything we can to make up for losses in the budget, but it’s a difficult year,” he said.

Still, Comrie said there are other ways to find savings in the budget besides decreasing park workers.

“For the city to think that they can get away with that type of manpower is ridiculous,” he said.

Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton) said it was “madness” that the parks in CB 13 would only be getting one seasonal worker.

Sanders noted that due to the rough economic times, more residents will be staying local and patronize parks.

“Everyone’s not flying away for the holidays,” he said. “This is a recipe for disaster. We are being penny wise and pound foolish.”

The councilman said people getting hurt at parks and “vermin infestation” may be some of the problems caused by the dearth of seasonal workers.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 10:33 am, October 12, 2011
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