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Preliminary Budget Sparks Concerns Over Park Equity

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The city's parks are expanding, but as the city council looks at its preliminary budget, some say certain parks are getting better treatment than others. NY1's Rocco Vertuccio filed the following report.

Even those who love Astoria Park admit it could use some extra TLC.

"Yes, it needs more clean-up, more grass on the sides, more activities over here," said one visitor.

Smaller parks like this one could soon get some extra care thanks to a focus on what's being called "park equity" at City Hall. It's the idea that all parks in the city should be equally well-kept; not just the large, better-known ones like Central Park.

"This is a very busy park. They should invest in it," said another visitor.

Large parks have conservancies—privately funded groups that maintain them and pay for their programs. It's why Central Park looks as good as it does. But smaller parks rely mostly on city funding—funding that has dropped over the years.

"Everybody comes here to jog, to have fun, to play. It is very important, so all the parks are very important," a third visitor said.

The mayor supports fairness in parks funding. He has added an extra $80 million in his budget to maintain neighborhood parks. The chair of the council's parks committee, Councilman Mark Levine, wants to allocate $27.5 million to even things out. That money would pay for permanent gardeners, maintenance workers and 150 extra patrol officers for smaller parks.

The goal is to make sure all families in the city have access to well-kept parks, not just those in wealthy neighborhoods.

"There's a lot more small parks than big parks. The thing is, a lot of people, commuters, cannot go to big parks. They have to go to their local parks," said another visitor.

The President and CEO of the Central Park Conservancy recently told the City Council that the conservancy is dedicated to sharing its experience and workers to help revitalize neighborhood parks across the city.

A plan by State Senator Daniel Squadron would go further—requiring the largest conservancies to put 20 percent of their operating budgets into a fund to help neighborhood parks.

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