Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to turn over a new leaf on how funding for the city’s parks is doled out.
The mayor came to Flushing Tuesday morning to launch a new initiative that will provide $130 million in capital funding to 35 parks and playgrounds he said were neglected during the Bloomberg administration.
“From children and parents to athletes and students, every New Yorker deserves access to clean and safe public parkland - no matter what neighborhood they live in,” he told reporters standing in PS20’s playground. “Through targeted investments and programming, we will engage New Yorkers by re-creating parks in communities that need open space improvements the most.”
The Community Parks Initiative identified parks in densely populated low-income areas that had received less than $250,000 in capital funding over the last two decades.
Six of the parks are in Queens and include the Bowne Playground, at Union Street and Barclay Avenue, where de Blasio made his announcement and which has gotten less than $60,000 in capital improvements over the last twenty years.
“This is a place where many children come for recreation,” de Blasio said of Bowne Playground. “It’s used constantly and needs lots of support.”
The funds will go toward improvements that include fixing cracked asphalt, replacing concrete with green space and installing new benches.
The mayor said these open spaces in low-income neighborhoods have suffered the brunt of the city’s lopsided parks funding and have languished as a result.
“It’s another example of the inequalities that have plagued this city over time. Some parks did very well. Other parks didn’t have the resources they needed and didn’t have the support they deserved,” he said. “We’re here today to take a major step towards addressing those inequities.”
Park advocates have criticized the Bloomberg administration for neglecting parks in poor neighborhoods and focusing on large parks such as Central Park.
“This was a constant battle I engaged in with the last administration that had a completely different vision,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan), who used to chair the Parks Committee and represented low-income neighborhoods such as East Harlem and Mott Haven in the Bronx.
Roughly $110 million of the funds will come from the mayoral capital budget and the other $20 million has been allocated by the City Council and borough presidents. More than $36 million will come from the city Department of Environmental Protection which will go to building green infrastructure to help alleviate the city’s antiquated sewer system.
The other parks and playgrounds in the borough which are slated to be renovated through the additional funding are Astoria Heights Playground, Corona Mac Park, Grassmere Playground, Rockaway Community Park and Van Alst Playground.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobi
©2014 Community News Group
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