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Tools for Action

Is there a broken drinking fountain in your park? No wheelchair ramps? A consistent problem with trash or broken glass? This page is designed to help you advocate for better parks, playgrounds and beaches in your community.


What does it mean to advocate?

Advocacy is the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal.

There is an old saying, “You can’t fight City Hall.” Whoever coined that phrase didn’t understand the power of advocacy. At New Yorkers for Parks we believe that Advocacy = Transformation.

There are a number of tools available for park advocacy:

  • You can call 311 about an issue in your park.
  • You can also visit the Parks Department’s website, where you can submit an ADA complaint, request a street tree or tree removal, or report graffiti in your park.

If your issue requires more attention, NY4P recommends you follow these steps for action:

Step One: Letter to an Agency

Say your park needs new sidewalks. This is the kind of work that is supervised by the borough offices of the Parks Department. A letter to the Borough Commissioner regarding the situation is a good first step. Curb your desire to write a letter to the top person and start with your borough leadership -- the people in the field know more about what is going on every day, so it makes sense.

In the letter you should:

  1. Be courteous; insults will get you nowhere except on a list of difficult constituents.
  2. Explain the problem concisely. You don’t need every detail, just enough to get their attention. Hopefully, you will get a follow-up letter, phone call or meeting with a staff member or supervisor that will allow you to fill in the details.

Step Two: Letter to Community Boards

By the power of the City Charter, Community Boards are empowered to act as an official channel between citizens and their city government. Community Board District Managers are paid staff charged with managing the Community Board’s daily affairs. By contacting the District Manager, you are making your park’s problem an official problem of the Community Board and elevating the problem to a complaint. In informing the Community Board you should:

  1. Write a courteous, concise letter to the District Manager, explaining the problem and offering to give the manager a tour to help explain the issue.
  2. If you don’t receive an answer within 30 days, attend the next meeting of the Community Board and, during the public session, ask the board for help.

Step Three: Letter to Elected Officials

Most issues can be taken care of through the city’s 311 service, requests to the Parks Department or help from the Community Board District Manager. When all else fails, however, or when your issue will require public funding, a letter to your elected officials is the next step.

Send your letter to your City Council Member, the Borough President or the Public Advocate. If you have time, it is best to send to all three at the same time, with a CC on the bottom of the page to let them know that you have reached out to all relevant elected officials. A letter to an elected official, like a letter to a commissioner, should be concise and courteous. You may want to mention that you have spoken with the Parks Department and the Community Board already and are looking for further help. Try to arrange a site tour with the staff members.

To find out who your elected officials are, visit myciti.org.

To set up a meeting with NY4P and your Council Member, contact , NY4P’s Government and Community Affairs Associate.

To support NY4P’s advocacy efforts, click here.