James Vacca on Parks

James Vacca for City Council

Jimmy Vacca

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?

A,B,C: "I would ask the administration to come up with an overall capital plan for NYC Parks. I find that most capital projects in local parks are funded through the City Councilperson or Borough President. There must be a citywide commitment to maintain our parks and initiate new capital projects. I feel a five year plan model, as now utilized to prioritize projects at the New York City Department of Education, would be an appropriate step in the right direction. I would fund it in the overall context of the capital budget, assessing available funds and making long-term and multi-year commitments where needed. By trying to allow the Parks Department to keep much of its concession revenue and supporting the concept of 1% expense budget funding for Parks, I hope to reduce the dependence on “ roaming crews “ and provide for full time parks maintance staff. As Community Board #10,where I have served as District Manager for 25 years, includes the largest park in the city, Pelham Bay Park, I am particularly sensitive to the needs of Parks and view both capital and expense budget commitment as imperative."

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?

"Each year, when the City Council makes restorations to libraries and social services I would ask that the Parks Dept.expense budget budget allocations be reviewed as well and that the Council make restorations should the administration not include recreation and sports programs in their submission. I believe that there must a citywide commitment toward a collaborative relationship between DYCD, Parks and the Dept.of Education. Once that takes place and the parameters and goals are established I would use the District Service Cabinets of the Community Boards to locally coordinate actions that would effectuate service delivery. As a City Councilman, I would have a staff member serve as a link between my Community Boards and the city to make sure nothing falls through the cracks."
· 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?
"See above"

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?
"I would make sure that the City commit, up front as part of their proposal, to a specific mechanism for Parks restoration. I would not take for granted that such restoration would take place but insist on a plan."

4. Community Gardens

· What specific actions would you take to reduce the cost of the annual insurance premiums that community gardeners must pay?
"I would look to having large insurance companies in the city bid on a city wide RFP to insure such gardens are insured as at reasonable price. This certainly would make for a competitive process and provide for cheaper rates due to the number of gardens being insured."

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?
"I would call upon the Mayor to take action through an Adopt the Park project. I also believe that we can provide more multi-purpose facilities for sports and recreation by opening our schools in the evening for youth recreation and by having a specific adult component so that families can recreate together using our schools and available parks facilities as focal points."

· How would you provide more multi-purpose facilities for amateur sports and recreation?
"See above"

6. Waterfront Parks

· How would you improve upon recent investment in the NYC waterfront?
"I would make sure that there is a sufficient expense budget commitment to maintain and protect the improvements that have been made. I would ask that Park waterfront be inventoried and that we look at each opportunity to increase public access. I also acknowledge that funding for waterfront maintenance can be expensive but resources can be identified, including possible state and federal programs, in this effort."

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

· How would you fund the especially costly maintenance of waterfront parks?
"See above"

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)?
"As District Manager of Community Board 10, I realize that our national parks are treasures that must be protected. I have worked in my Community Board to protect and identify parkland, in particular, I prevented the city from developing Givans’ Creek Woods and identified natural species and fauna on that site which resulted in a Parks Department takeover, keeping that safe from development for future generations. I believe Governor’s Island deserves special consideration, and I would be interested in reviewing all plans for its future use."
· What is your vision for Governors Island?
"See above"