City Council Speaker Candidates Weigh in on Parks & Outdoor Spaces

4 of the six candidates for NYC Council speaker joined in a web-based discussion board Nov. 17 focusing on town’s inexperienced areas. 

City Council Members Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn), Francisco Moya (D-Queens), Keith Powers (D-Manhattan) and Carlina Rivera (D-Manhattan) and Council Member-elect Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan) participated and the dialog centered on new approaches to funding and enhancing parks and different out of doors areas in every borough. Right here is the highlights:

The 1% rule

City Council Member-elect Gale Brewer
Justin Brannan
City Council Member Justin Brannan
Council Member Carlina Rivera (Photo credit: council.nyc.gov)
Council Member Carlina Rivera

This subject has been introduced up in mayoral boards as effectively, with mayor-elect Eric Adams dedicated to giving 1% of town’s price range to parks. It’s presently allotted about 0.5% of the price range, in comparison with different cities that use 1% as a baseline and spend way more percentage-wise. All 4 attendees agreed that that is the way in which to go.

“I think if we could do more, we would. You have to baseline it,” mentioned Brewer, speaker from her latest expertise as Manhattan borough president. 

“We’ve had decades and decades of mayors being just cavalier about gutting the Parks Department budget, and dedicating just 1% of the city’s budget to parks would bring us closer to the more generous funding levels in the past,” mentioned Brannan. 

City Councilmember Francisco Moya .
Council Member Keith Powers
Council Member Keith Powers

Rivera introduced up an fairness lens that reminded discussion board attendees that not everybody has entry to parks, and once they do, many want repairs. 

“Our parks are only enjoyed by a privileged few and too many communities get left behind on money and priorities. And that’s something that I’ve been working on with my colleagues, especially in some of our outer boroughs,” Rivera mentioned.

The procurement course of

All of the candidates mentioned the procurement of funds and capital to get initiatives performed for a selected park or mission is extraordinarily tough.

Brewer famous that simply placing bogs in a park can price upwards of $1 million, and the method could be very flawed. In her response, she mentioned, “I imply, numerous corporations won’t bid with town of New York as a result of it takes so lengthy. So the query is, are you able to pay folks quicker in order that they’ll bid after which the procurement course of can be quicker?“

Moya additionally mentioned that as a result of the method isn’t streamlined, initiatives they struggle for are sometimes began lengthy after the council members go away workplace. “We have to maximize our dollars in the way that you know that benefits the most number of New Yorkers, with a particular focus on the underserved areas,” Moya mentioned. As a council member for the twenty first district, he serves a neighborhood with one of many lowest quantities of greenspace: Jackson Heights. 

“We can actually put money in the budget right now to make sure that we’re doing the maintenance on the parks and that way we can save ourselves for three, five years,” Powers added. 

Open streets and out of doors eating

As supporters of the out of doors eating packages instituted through the worst of the pandemic in NYC, the candidates all had completely different views on the way to keep it safely. Brewer was not out there for this portion of the controversy, however the different three gave their opinions. 

“I think it really comes down to making sure that our small businesses are not going to get subtly blindsided if we decide to start monetizing the outdoor dining,” mentioned Brannan. Getting authorized for and discovering the cash to execute out of doors eating area was made considerably simpler throughout COVID-19, however companies are usually not positive how lengthy that may final, he mentioned. 

Rivera wrote the laws that initially proposed the emergency open streets program in 2020, and she or he believes that it’s time to make them everlasting. “We made it central to our legislation that any community that wanted it where it’s appropriate, could have an open street, and they would have access to city support and resources. And that way we can ensure equity and access,” she mentioned. 

Powers additionally mentioned that persevering with the open streets and out of doors eating packages is crucial. “The hospitality industry is going to continue to be impacted by the lack of folks who are visiting the city,” he mentioned.

On prioritizing folks and transit over automobiles, Brannan, Rivera and Powers assist Transportation Options’ 25 by 25 plan to repurpose 25% of road area. Moya didn’t give a transparent sure or no, and Brewer was not on the decision to reply. 

Local weather resilience

Resilience is certain to be a subject of dialog in the council due to Hurricane Ida’s lasting impression on a number of neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn and even Manhattan. All the candidates on the discussion board supported the event of a local weather resiliency plan for the entire metropolis.

Brewer mentioned that sustaining the sewage system is vital to mitigating the results of floods, however admitted that there isn’t a lot that may be performed with out important monetary funding. “We do need to work with the Department of Environmental Protection on what we can do for storing more rainwater so that it doesn’t end up in the rivers,” Brewer mentioned. 

Rivera mentioned that local weather change may also be handled as a housing situation due to the basement residences and householders which can be affected. Powers famous that the previous few climate occasions uncovered weak point in City Corridor, that “we don’t have agencies ready or capable.”

 The 51 members of the NYC Council will vote for speaker in January.

 

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