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De Blasio Pressed To Continue Parts Of Bloomberg's Legacy With City Parks

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg leaves a large legacy when it comes to city parks, one that Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is being pressed to continue and, in some ways, change. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

Thursday's tree planting on Governors Island may well be Mayor Michael Bloomberg's last one. Under his watch, the city has planted 800,000 of them.

Admirers of his parks policy parade other statistics, such as that during his administration, New York added nearly 840 acres of park land, the most since Robert Moses.

"There's no question the investment of capital is beyond what it's been for decades," said Holly Leicht of New Yorkers for Parks.

You can see the proof in Brooklyn Bridge Park, the High Line and Governors Island, where crowds can now run, or rest, on 75 refurbished acres.

Governors Island has generally been open only around summer weekends. The plan is to expand that, to make access even year round. There's a problem, though: there's not enough money yet to pay for it.

How to pay is always a problem, and will be for Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. Trickier still is that the Democrat has dismissed the private-public partnerships that Bloomberg champions, though he's supported others.

"Nobody can say we don't understand the value of parks and putting our money in," Bloomberg said. "It's just a question of how much you can have."

This, even as parks budgets have grown, from more than $209 million when Bloomberg took office to $380 million.

"The most important thing is how strongly people feel about it, so we just want to continue to be an extraordinary resource with public support from the new mayor for the New Yorkers who have already come and the many hundreds of thousands who are yet to come," said Leslie Koch of the Trust for Governors Island.

As for the trees, some say it's overkill.

"The problem is, we're planting new trees when we have absolutely no money, no organization, no equipment to maintain the trees that we already have," said state Senator Tony Avella of Queens.

Parks officials reject that.

Meanwhile, other projects are ahead, such as building Fresh Kills Park in Staten Island, triple the size of Central Park. More controversially is a soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Or, as de Blasio has himself raised, siphoning private money from park conservancies to less-manicured parks.

As these are hashed out, trees will bloom on Governors Island and elsewhere.

For the record, the one Bloomberg planted was a ginkgo biloba.

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