Dec. 14, 2023 By Rachel Butler
Trash cans will overflow and park jobs will be lost as a result of Mayor Eric Adams’ budget cuts that were announced in November, a Queens council member warned Monday.
Council Member Shekar Krishnan, who represents Jackson Heights and is Chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation, said Monday that the mayor’s budget cuts that recently went into effect will result in parks being cleaned just once or twice a week—instead of five times weekly—and that the city’s parks will become dirty and less attractive. The Parks Dept. along with all other city agencies had its budget slashed 5% by the mayor last month.
Furthermore, he said, the cuts will result in the elimination of the Parks Opportunity Program, which employs 2,000 low-income New Yorkers as Parks Dept. maintenance workers. The workers are also provided with career coaching services to help them reach their future career goals.
“The mayor’s elimination of the Parks Opportunity Program from the budget tells us everything we need to know about his bleak, short-sighted, self-defeating vision for our city,” Krishnan said.
He added that the Parks Opportunity Program is a decades old job training initiative, and that the elimination of the program will affect the lives of many New Yorkers.
“The Parks Opportunity Program doesn’t just keep our parks clean, it also employs low-income New Yorkers every year, for whom it has been a ray of hope in an increasingly unaffordable city,” he added.
Currently, park workers empty 17,000 trash cans in parks across the city and with the loss of many jobs, these will soon be overflowing with trash.
“Cutting it will save the city pennies in a budget of billions. Parks will be cleaned only once per week, instead of five times. 17,000 trash cans across our green spaces will overflow,” Krishnan said.
The budget cuts come at a time when parks advocates argue that the city is not spending enough on the maintenance of parks. The mayor committed to providing 1% of the city budget, approximately $1 billion, for parks when he was running for office. The city spent $610.4 million in 2022.
“The mayor promised 1% of our city budget for parks. Instead, we’re losing staff and services,” Krishnan said.
The mayor’s budget cuts have also impacted the NYPD with the next five police academy classes being canceled, which is likely to reduce the NYPD to 29,000 cops by 2025. The cuts are also forcing libraries across the city to cut their seven-day service.
Furthermore, many pre-K spots are being canceled, while middle schoolers will face shorter summer programs.
The mayor said the cuts are needed to cover the increasing cost of housing migrants. However, his plan has many critics.
“Like the cuts to our libraries, composting, or pre-K, the savings are modest while the cost is severe—to our workers, to our public institutions, to all of New York City. The mayor is shoving us off a fiscal cliff of his own creation,” Krishnan said.