Helen D. Foster on Parks

Helen D. Foster for City Council

Helen D. Foster



Part 1 – Yes/No Questions

1. Maintenance

a. Will you work toward committing at least 1% of the overall city budget to the Parks Department’s expense budget over the course of your term? YES
     > If so, would you dedicate revenue earned through park concessions to parks maintenance and operations, without simultaneous decreases in baseline funding? YES
b. Will you establish objective, publicly accessible maintenance standards for all park properties in all five boroughs? YES
c. Will you provide in your Mayor’s Management Report park ratings by borough and community board in addition to the citywide level? YES
     > Will you make the official Parks Department “property list” that specifically delineates all 1,700 properties available online? YES
     > Will you make publicly available details of the private funding that helps to maintain and operate many of our public parks? YES

2. Capital

  • Will you require that every capital parks project be accompanied by a plan for ongoing maintenance and/or funding? YES

3. Crime

a. Will you support legislation that requires regular NYPD reports to the City Council on crime in parks (ie. Intro. 470)? YES
b. Will you work toward making parkland part of the city’s CompStat system? YES

4. Alienation

  • Will you support more laws that require public notification and input when a park will be used for non-park purposes, to afford parks the protection they need from development or use by other agencies? YES

5. Open Space/Natural Areas

  • Will you work toward creating, with significant community involvement, a comprehensive open space plan that will guide the overall acquisition, restoration, improvement, and maintenance of parks, natural areas, playgrounds and athletic facilities in the five boroughs? YES

Part 2 – Open Questions

1. Maintenance

a. What specific actions would you take to ensure that every park in every neighborhood has green ball fields, working water fountains and open bathrooms?
How would you fund your actions?

b. What would be your plan to move from roaming crews to fixed crews for parks maintenance?

c. What funding / programs would you use to increase the full-time parks maintenance staff?

"I agree that “every park in every neighborhood should have green ball fields, working water fountains and open bathrooms”. This can be done by a major increase in the Parks Department budget, at least to the standard of 1% of the city’s budget dedicated to parks. Funds raised by parks concessions should remain with the Parks Department, including use for parks that have no concessions. The Park Department should appeal to and partner with the private sector in funding parks in all neighborhoods as well as in high income neighborhoods with resources.

The funding of maintenance and capital items must be greatly increased, including the parks capital budget in the outer boroughs. There must be a regular inspection system that inspects all parks daily and more thoroughly weekly. Fixed crews are preferable, but I would not rule out some use of roving maintenance crews who do specialized work. The important guideline is that there be a regular and thorough inspection system with clear timelines for repairs.

In addition to their own inspection system and maintenance teams, the Parks Department should seek to develop volunteer teams from the community. I have developed a Friends of Park Council for my 16th Council District that meets monthly in my community office. Its purpose is to organize small groups of volunteers in each of my parks who will work with the Parks Department by inspecting their own parks, sponsor volunteer improvement projects, and advocate in general for parks citywide."

2. Recreation & Youth Programming

· What specific actions would you take to revitalize the recreational and amateur sports programs that have been decimated by years of budget cuts?

· What specific actions would you take to enable a much higher level of collaboration among the Parks Dept., Dept. of Youth & Community Development and the Dept. of Education?
"I will continue to advocate for large increases in the Parks Department budget, again at least to the 1% standard to “revitalize recreational and amateur sports programs.” Even with our present inadequate funding, it is possible to improve programming by making a greater effort to partner with the private and non-profit sectors. We should appeal to professional teams, universities and amateur organizations to become directly involved in partnering with the Parks Department. City agencies such as the Parks Dept, DYCD, DOE, etc. should establish an ongoing organization to sponsor joint recreational and amateur sports programming."

3. Olympics

· If NYC is awarded the Olympics in 2012 or 2016, what specific actions would you take to ensure that parks that are changed, altered or improved as Olympic venues are properly funded and maintained after the Olympics are finished?

4. Community Gardens

· What specific actions would you take to reduce the cost of the annual insurance premiums that community gardeners must pay?
"I agree with the NYFP proposal that the City should either waive or help to reduce the cost of the annual insurance premiums that community gardeners must pay."

5. Stadiums & Amateur Sports

· What specific actions would you take to require that professional sports organizations assist in maintaining and operating public parks near their facilities?
· How would you provide more multi-purpose facilities for amateur sports and recreation?
"There should be “terms and conditions” in every parks contract with professional sports organizations that guarantees the increase and maintenance of parks in the communities of those teams, and additionally, a sharing of resources for parks citywide in the several communities where there are no professional sports teams. There should be a commitment by the private sector professional teams not only to develop the parks of their communities, but also youth programs and economic development programs. Additionally, there should be a commitment and increased budget support for providing more multi-purpose faculties for amateur sports and recreation."

6. Waterfront Parks

· How would you improve upon recent investment in the NYC waterfront?

· What are your plans to ensure that citizens in all five boroughs have access to waterfront parks?

· How would you fund the especially costly maintenance of waterfront parks?
"Although there has been recent investment in the NYC waterfront, there should be greater budget commitment, and additionally, an ongoing appeal to the private sector and the non-profit sector. There must be a more equitable commitment to waterfront recreational access in the communities of the outer boroughs. For example, the Highbridge Aqueduct Pedestrian Bridge in my 16th C.D., an historical engineering miracle of the nineteenth century, should be re-opened for its spectacular vistas and for the functional purpose of linking the people in the Bronx and Manhattan through both of their Highbridge parks.

There are miles of waterfront along the Harlem River that ought to open waterfront access for the South Bronx. The Parks Department and such non-profit groups as the Advisory Council of the Roberto Clemente State Park, the Urban Divers Estuary Conservancy, New York Restoration, Standing by the Water, etc. have been collaborating on planning for waterfront access. However, there needs to be funding for these plans, and for such other groups in the outer boroughs. Waterfront parks should be funded by an increase in the parks department budget, and by a more concerted appeal to the private and non-profit sectors."

7. National Parks

· What steps would you take to promote the use of and access to our city’s national parks (ie. Gateway National Recreation Area, National Parks of NY Harbor)?
· What is your vision for Governors Island?
"As chair of the New York City Council Parks & Recreation Committee, I have held hearing and will continue to advocate for the use of and access to our city’s national parks. The city, state and federal governments should work collaboratively to develop a well-funded transportation plan, including a good ferry system, to guarantee access to national parks. Reliable transportation is necessary to provide employment opportunities for residents of New York City.

I support the development of Governor’s Island for a variety of passive and active recreational uses. I understand that the Governor’s Island Preservation and Education Corporation was formed as a city and state public benefit corporation that included mandating 40 additional acres to be set aside for parkland. As chair of the Parks & Recreational Committee of the City Council, I welcome the involvement of the communities of New York City in developing a recreational plan that would meet the widest possible needs of all of our communities."