May 10, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
New Yorkers who live in low-income neighborhoods lack access to quality parks and playgrounds when compared to residents living in affluent areas, according to a Queens councilmember.
Councilmember Shekar Krishnan, who represents District 25 in Jackson Heights, says that neighborhood parks in poorer communities are often inadequately maintained due to insufficient funding and staffing levels.
However, parks in more affluent parts of the city, he says, tend to benefit from conservancies that attract private donations to support their upkeep.
Krishnan, who is the chair of the Council Parks Committee, is looking to improve conditions at public parks across the city in order to reduce such disparities.
He introduced a bill last month that aims to raise standards at public parks by mandating the Parks Dept. carry out rigorous inspections. The bill passed unanimously Thursday in a 50-0 vote.
The bill will require the Parks Dept. to develop a grading system for inspecting public parks and playgrounds.
The inspections will require the evaluation of each park, which will involve the examination of the amenities, play areas, structures, athletic fields and paved surfaces. Park cleanliness will also have to be rated in terms of the presence of litter, graffiti, broken glass or weeds.
Under the legislation, the Parks Dept. will have to issue a report to the Mayor and City Council by Dec. 31, 2022. The report, which will have to be produced every six months thereafter, must identify parks and playgrounds that routinely fail such inspections.
The report will have to include a plan to make improvements to the underperforming parks. A timeline and costs associated with the upgrades must also be included in the report.
Krishnan said the legislation is a step towards addressing inequities for New Yorkers accessing quality parks.
“Every New Yorker — regardless of where they live or how much money they have — deserves a clean, safe, well-maintained park in their community,” Krishnan said in a statement.
The bill was co-sponsored by Queens councilmembers Tiffany Cabán, Julie Won and Selvena Brooks-Powers.