June 23, 2020
Relief Fund for New York City Parks
New York City parks have been affected by a combination of coronavirus-related budget cuts and noticeable declines in private donations. Necessary cuts have reduced the Department of Parks & Recreation budget to levels not seen since the 1970s – a time when many public parks were not maintained and often derelict. For those who were not in NYC in the 1970s, even our own Madison Square Park was a virtual no-man’s land people wouldn’t cut though, much less sit in. Tremendous progress has been made, and we are at a crossroad where these parks could fall back into poor condition.
Not only do New York City’s parks offer green spaces within the urban density, they help soak up water from storms that pass through, cool the surrounding areas, and clean the air around them. As summer unfolds and New Yorkers begin to venture out, public parks and open spaces will be especially important.
In order to help with budget challenges, the NYC Green Relief & Cover Fund has been established. Its mission is to support community groups and nonprofits that provide important services that help keep our parks vital: maintenance, public programming, stewardship, and management. AM New York reports there are over 25 nonprofits who maintain and operate parks or provide programs and community services for city-owned land. Organizations of any size are eligible to receive money from the NYC Green Relief & Cover Fund.
At the time of the fund’s announcement, The Architect’s Newspaper indentified seven major donors that have generously given support: The Lily Auchincloss Foundation; the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; The J.M. Kaplan Fund; The JPB Foundation; the Leon Levy Foundation; the Libra Fund, and The New York Community Trust.
Private citizens are encouraged to donate, as well as companies and institutions.
It is hard to imagine what New York would be like without its parks, which provide all of us with natural beauty in which to relax and restore ourselves. We often think these parks are completely funded by the city. This is far from the case, and in reality, our parks are vibrant because of private donations. The Patch reports, roughly half of New York City parks and natural areas are maintained by groups and community conservancies, which anticipate at least $37 million in lost revenue from the outbreak, according to a recent COVID-19 impact report. Any donation amount aids in helping to keep New York City’s public parks and open spaces clean, healthy, and safe.