Opinion: Funding for N.Y.C. Parks Should Be a Priority

New York City parks are in desperate need of maintenance and infrastructure improvements, and the city should make investments now to support these essential public spaces.

May 29, 2019, 6:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink

Central Park - Manhattan, New York

Doug Kerr (dougtone) / Flickr

Eli Dvorkin makes the case for a much-needed boost in funding for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation’s budget: $100 million more this year and a plan for generating funds in the future. "Parks in every borough are struggling with aging assets that are at or near the end of their useful lives – including collapsed drainage systems, crumbling retaining walls and structurally deficient bridges."

Dvorkin outlines a number of ways the city could establish substantial and long-term revenue streams. Many parks do not offer concessions, for example, and these sales could potentially raise $14 million a year, he says. "The popular local food vendors at the renovated pavilions along Rockaway Beach are prime examples of concessions that add to the experience for parkgoers, support community businesses and raise revenue – all without detracting from the quality of open, noncommercial public space."

Other possible revenue sources include surcharges on event tickets, dockage fees, and golf course green fees. Dvorkin also suggests that the city take advantage of development incentives, such as density bonuses and community benefits agreements, to bring in additional funds. "While these incentives and agreements have been used to address a variety of community needs to date, very few have been designed to fund open space creation, infrastructure improvements or ongoing maintenance."

Tuesday, May 21, 2019 in City & State New York

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