James Gennaro on Parks

James F.Gennaro for City Council

James Gennaro



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?
     > If so, would you dedicate revenue earned through park concessions to parks maintenance and operations, without simultaneous decreases in baseline funding? I strongly support committing at least 1% of city budget to the Parks Department’s expense budget. I have signed the New Yorkers For Parks pledge petition in support of this commitment.
b. Will you establish objective, publicly accessible maintenance standards for all park properties in all five boroughs? I support objective, publicly accessible maintenance standards.
c. Will you provide in your Mayor’s Management Report park ratings by borough and community board in addition to the citywide level? I support borough-specific park ratings in the Mayor’s Management Report, including making the official parks “property list” online accessible and details of private funding publicly available.
     > Will you make the official Parks Department “property list” that specifically delineates all 1,700 properties available online?
     > Will you make publicly available details of the private funding that helps to maintain and operate many of our public parks?

2. Capital

  • Will you require that every capital parks project be accompanied by a plan for ongoing maintenance and/or funding? I support requiring each capital parks project be accompanied by a plan for ongoing maintenance/funding.

3. Crime

a. Will you support legislation that requires regular NYPD reports to the City Council on crime in parks (ie. Intro. 470)?
b. Will you work toward making parkland part of the city’s CompStat system? I am a co-sponsor of Int. No. 470 and support including parkland in the CompStat system.

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? I strongly support public notification and input on proposed non-park uses of parkland.

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? I strongly support the creation of a citywide comprehensive open space plan. Related to open spaces and natural areas, I should also note that, in August, the City Council is expected to pass Int. No. 566, legislation that I authored to require the City to assess the feasibility of transferring city-owned wetlands to the Parks Department. I believe that the process established by this legislation – having the city review opportunities to protect natural areas – is a model for the type of acquisition, restoration, improvement, and maintenance activities that should be an on-going component of any comprehensive City open space plan.

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?

"Through my District 24 “Parks Improvement Program” – which has the goal of funding improvements at every park in my district – I have established a enviable record of dedicating substantial discretionary funding to park upgrades and renovations. Since taking office in 1992, I have funded over 15 rehabilitation and reconstruction projects throughout my district through my PIP initiative. This includes allocating over $1 million for the construction of a new soccer field at the Rufus King Park, a park that serves the diverse and traditionally underserved community of Jamaica. I am committed to continuing to provide substantial funding to my Parks Improvement Program in the future.

Further, I believe that achieving the goal of at least 1% of the overall city budget being committed to the Parks Department – which I have pledged to New Yorkers For Parks to support – will provide a means of not only ensuring that every park in every city neighborhood will have superior amenities, but also of increasing the number of full-time parks maintenance staff devoted to them and supporting a transition to fixed maintenance crews.

I am also a co-sponsor of Int. No. 327, Concession Reform, which I believe would provide a critical, dedicated funding stream for parks maintenance projects."

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?
"Supporting recreational and amateur sporting opportunities is high priority of mine. This is why, through my “Parks Improvement Program” and allocation of capital discretionary funding, I have dedicated tens of millions of dollars to rehabilitating parks, playgrounds, and other open spaces in my district. (Again, this includes allocating over $1 million for the construction of a new soccer field at the Rufus King Park in Jamaica). This is also why I annually target a substantial portion – tens of thousands of dollars each year – of my discretionary expense funding to youth recreational programs in my district.

Targeted capital expenditures as a part of Council delegation and citywide allocations, as well as in the administration’s budget, can also be used for the purpose of revitalizing recreational and amateur sports programs in the city.

Ultimately, the only entity that can ensure collaboration between the Parks Department, Department of Youth & Community Development, and the Department of Education is the Mayor’s office. However, the New York City Council – through legislation, oversight hearings, joint letters, etc. – can encourage a higher level of collaboration between these agencies, and I would be supportive of joining with other Council members in pursuing more or more of these approaches."

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 New York City does opt to pursue the 2016 Olympic Summer Games, I believe that it is not too early to establish and observe at least 2 principles relative to city parklands: 1) adverse impacts on any amenities, such as open spaces, ball fields, community centers, etc., should be avoided – or, if unavoidable, the lost amenities should be replaced at a proximate location; and 2) most importantly, an endowment, trust, or other financial instrument should be created and employed to ensure the maintenance of parkland altered or added by the Games. I would note that this concept – ensuring the long-term maintenance of these new park features – is analogous to the policy (which I support) of requiring that each City capital parks project be accompanied by a plan for ongoing maintenance and funding."

4. Community Gardens

· What specific actions would you take to reduce the cost of the annual insurance premiums that community gardeners must pay?
"I am supportive of either waiving, or requiring the City to help reduce to cost of, insurance premiums that community gardeners must currently pay. While dedicating achieving at least 1% of the city budget to the Parks Department, achieving concession reform (e.g., Int. 327), could provide funding for this purpose, I would also support other approaches, e.g., legislation, budget “carve outs”, etc., to funding."

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?
"I believe that professional sports organizations increasingly recognize their responsibility to be “good neighbors” in the communities in which they are based. Therefore, while I am open to other approaches to maintaining and restoring public parks near these organization’s facilities, I believe that an excellent opportunity currently presents itself – with new facilities being planned or considered for several of New York City’s sports organizations – for both public and private entities to partner with these organizations to achieve this end.

Related to facilities for amateur sports and recreation, each City Council member has an opportunity through targeted use of their discretionary capital allocations to support these facilities. For example, my allocation over $1 million for the construction of a new soccer field at the Rufus King Park serves a thriving amateur sports community in Jamaica. Targeted capital expenditures as a part of Council delegation and citywide allocations, as well as in the administration’s budget, can also be pursued for earmarking to these facilities. I should note that proper capital planning, including specific consideration and identification of amateur sports and recreation facility needs, is critical in this regard."

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?
"While the city has made considerable progress in establishing waterfront parks, there are hundreds of miles and thousands of acres of vacant waterfront land still available for development as parks.

I will again note that the City Council is expected to pass Int. No. 566 in August. This legislation, which I authored, would require the city to assess the feasibility of transferring city-owned wetlands to the Parks Department. It is my hope that this legislation will result in important city open spaces being protected for the enjoyment of future generations of New Yorkers.

Clearly, heightened public support for – and enhanced investment in – waterfront park development is necessary to not only support an overall increase in park area but also to ensure access to them by the residents of each New York City borough. While there may be opportunities for the creation and application of new, targeted maintenance funding instruments, achieving the goal of 1% of the city budget being committed to the Parks Department and passage of concession reform will provide for significantly increased park maintenance resource that could be applied to new waterfront parklands."

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?
"I should note that one of our most important responsibilities to our parks is to ensure their health and protection. To that end, the Mayor recently signed into law Int. No. 565, legislation I authored, designed to protect Jamaica Bay, part of the National Park System’s Gateway National Recreation area. This new law will – for the first time – create a clear path to the preservation and renewal of Jamaica Bay.

I support calls for the city, state, and federal government to provide ferry transport service to the national parks of New York City, as well as to city and state parks within our boundaries.

I share the New Yorkers For Parks vision for Governors Island, including maximizing the parkland set aside, ensuring that this set aside supports both passive and active park uses, that the lands be readily accessible to the residents of the five boroughs, and that the city, state, and federal governments should commit to funding capital improvements for the island for at least five years."