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New Parks Commissioner Has Citywide Ambitions

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Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday introduced Brooklyn native Mitchell Silver as the city's new parks commissioner, who says he plans to create a comprehensive parks plan citywide. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

Mayor Bill de Blasio's campaign against the tale of two cities in New York extends to the city's park system as well.

"I've said all along, we have to recognize the inequalities in our parks," de Blasio said.

To that end, last year, the mayor backed a proposal from state Senator Daniel Squadron to siphon off some privately raised money from well-funded parks conservancies. The money would be funneled to struggling park land.

"It is an important and promising idea," de Blasio said.

The mayor's incoming parks commissioner, Mitchell Silver, said that he supports the goal, but added that there may be many ways to get there. Well-funded conservancies like the Central Park Conservancy, the Prospect Park Alliance and Friends of the Highline are among those that would be affected.

"I'm going to start with a conversation, bring the conservancies to the table," Silver said.

Some park advocates have balked at the plan, calling it a non-starter. They said that the city needs to be providing more funding to needy parks.

"If you want to decrease the disparity found in many parks throughout the city, you need to fund them," said Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates. "You can't seize private donations. That's ridiculous."

Silver is a city planner who has worked in Raleigh, N.C. since 2005. He has deep ties to New York City, though. He grew up in Brooklyn near Prospect Park and has degrees from Pratt Institute and Hunter College.

"He has a passion for fairness and equality, and he brings it to the work of government and understands that we have to ensure parks and open spaces are open in every community," de Blasio said.

"My goal is to work with all New Yorkers in all boroughs, in all neighborhoods, to make the park system one that New York can be proud of for present and future generations," Silver said.

Silver said that he will begin his new job as parks commissioner sometime in May.

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