NYC Parks Dept. – 2/3 cuts in workers and many privatization schemes

Parks Dept. Logo, old Grate, Flatbush, Bklyn
Parks Dept. Logo, old Grate, Flatbush, Bklyn

According to New York Jobs With Justice:

“Years ago, NYC’s public parks were administered by over 7,500 municipal employees of the Department of Parks and Recreation. Today, it’s only 2,500 municipal employees taking care of NYC’s public parks. This number continues to shrink as the years go by. Much of the labor has been privatized through city partnerships with non-profit administrators resulting in a two-tier work force of public servants in the City’s public parks.

That is a 66% reduction in Parks Department workers.

Since so much has been willingly privatized (by the City), it’s hard to know what the actual number of workers is now.

Another result of the Parks Department budget cuts and the City government’s focus on privatization of our public spaces is emphasis on private entities which manage the space and also deem how that space is used.

* The City sells off naming rights to the fountain at Washington Square Park under the ruse that they can’t afford to repair it otherwise, and they agree to re-name it Tisch Fountain for $2.5 million (it ends up being moved, unnecessarily “aligned,” along with the deal) …

* At Central Park, the Central Park Conservancy – the private entity in charge of the park – has fought workers’ efforts to unionize.

* At Union Square Park, the Parks Department accepts a $7 million “anonymous” donation with STIPULATIONS – strings attached – that this donation ensures that there is a private restaurant in the historic Pavilion at Union Square. Although it hasn’t been revealed who the donor is, somehow restauranteur Danny Meyer, who is also co-chair of the Union Square Partnership (the local BID-business improvement district), is the only name bandied about as the choice to helm the restaurant. The restaurant is held off – for the moment – by a judge’s decision; the result of a lawsuit that a community group brought against the Parks Department to stop the privatization of this public space. (Meyer insisted in an affidavit that he has no plans to run the restaurant – but he supports it.)

You can see how much of a slippery slope this whole privatization game is.


Photo: Cat

* This is an edited and expanded version of a post published April 25, 2008. *

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