Betsy Gotbaum on Parks

Betsy Gotbaum for Public Advocate

Betsy Gorbaum



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, I am a co-sponsor of this legislation.
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?
"City Hall must be held accountable for the condition of our Parks. If re-elected would continue to fight for parks and push for the Mayor to evaluate City parks with ratings to be made publicly available. I would also push for the Mayor to invest in parks that do not meet certain basic criteria, such as green fields, working water fountains and open bathrooms."

How would you fund your actions?
I would continue to fight to enable the revenue generated by concessions operations to go towards the Parks Department’s budget, rather than going towards the City’s general fund. At the same time I would ensure that the Department’s budget was not cut to offset such a gain. I have signed the Parks 1 Pledge for Parks and am committed to fighting to have 1 percent of the City’s overall budget go to the Parks Department. With these added monies, the City could greatly improve the condition of its parks.

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

"Fixed crews are much preferable to roaming crews in terms of park maintenance. An employee that concentrates on a single park will be much more attentive to the needs of the specific site to which she/he tends. Moving to a fixed crew maintenance system would greatly improve the condition of parks--particularly smaller, often-neglected facilities."
c. What funding / programs would you use to increase the full-time parks maintenance staff?

"In place of a full-time maintenance and operations staff, the Parks Department relies heavily upon Job Training Program (JTP) workers, many of whom are former welfare recipients whose benefit eligibility has expired. The City should provide funds to enable the Department to hire the top 10% of the Parks JTP workforce."

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?

"I would work with local communities to identify the types of programs that could prove beneficial to individual neighborhoods and push for their creation. The Parks Dept. must provide youth and adults alike with sufficient opportunities for recreation and exercise.

I would also work to build and organize support for these programs to assure their continued existence. Crucial Parks programs should not suffer each time the City finds itself faced with a budget dilemma."

· 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?
"If re-elected I will work to identify opportunities for the Parks Dept., Dept. of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) and the Dept. of Education (DOE) to work together. These entities should be working in conjunction to address shared areas of interest and responsibility. For example, Parks, DYCD and DOE should must work together to tackle the problem of youth obesity. Linking schoolchildren with open space, recreational and athletic opportunities, and more would be extremely beneficial and a collaborative effort among these agencies could result in such outcomes."

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?
"If the City were to be selected as the 2016 Olympic host city, I would ensure that such an opportunity worked to the benefit of our parks. I would demand that all proposed projects involving parks be accompanied by detailed financial plans so as to ensure long-term viability of all such facilities. The city must avoid the creation of facilities which cannot be sustained."

4. Community Gardens

· What specific actions would you take to reduce the cost of the annual insurance premiums that community gardeners must pay?
"Insurance premiums discourage the creation and maintenance of community gardens. I would support efforts to decrease and/or eliminate the insurance fees community gardens are currently required to 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?
"The City must actively seek support from non-governmental entities in supporting our parks. City officials can negotiate with professional sports organizations to enlist their help with the upkeep of neighborhood parks."

· How would you provide more multi-purpose facilities for amateur sports and recreation?
"No Answer."

6. Waterfront Parks

· How would you improve upon recent investment in the NYC waterfront?
"After years of neglect, it is encouraging to witness the ongoing redevelopment of waterfront areas around the City. I support increased ferry service to enable greater access to recently redeveloped waterfront areas. Such measures will also benefit public health and the environment by working to take cars, trucks and buses off the roads."

· What are your plans to ensure that citizens in all five boroughs have access to waterfront parks?
"I will continue to make waterfront access and waterfront parks a priority. I have supported the development in Williamsburg/Greenpoint, in part because the project would provide residents with seamless waterfront access."

· How would you fund the especially costly maintenance of waterfront parks?
"As previously stated, on the whole, I would continue to work for a dramatically increased Parks Department budget. I will continue fighting for 1 percent of the overall City budget to go to Parks, and by continuing to advocate allowing concession revenue from parks to go to the Parks Department. Additionally, I would be hesitant to support parks reliant upon self-financing schemes, which often commercialize parks, detracting from their beauty, and often prove unreliable."

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)?
"I will press for the Mayor to utilize all available funding sources to ensure easy access by ferry to our national parks."
· What is your vision for Governors Island?
"The acquisition of Governor’s Island presents a wonderful opportunity for New Yorkers. Any vision for the future of the Island must attempt to preserve an optimal amount of open space. I believe that the establishment of a set of principles and priorities to guide development can help to ensure that any project will conform to environmentally responsible standards.

The City must also ensure that the solicitation of community input is an essential part of the development process. I have repeatedly criticized the Bloomberg administration for its failure to consider the views of New Yorkers regarding the development of Manhattan’s West Side."