Last night the Empire State Building and other notable New York landmarks were lit up in green reminding us that Parks and their workers, who have both remained vital and provided an essential service to millions of New Yorkers during this pandemic, are essential.
Empire State Building lit up in green to salute Park workers (Time Out NY/Shutterstock)
Studies have shown that (even in normal times) parks and open space have a direct correlation to good mental and physical health. They provide communities with spaces for play, exercise, meditation, and rest, all of which are critically important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In the age of Covid 19, this is true now more than ever. A survey conducted in April by the National Recreation and Parks Association found that 83% of Americans think that parks and open space are essential to maintaining their physical and mental health during the Covid 19 Pandemic.
Infographic of a survey on how people view parks during Covid 19 (NRPA)
Unfortunately Covid 19 has forced the city into deep economic constraints. Just this year alone the city has cut $84 million from the Parks budget and another $37 million of revenue was lost because of closed/canceled revenue generating activities. Additionally, $61 million has already been slashed from the Parks budget for Fiscal Year 2021.
These deep cuts threaten the ability to properly maintain and operate Parks and provide valuable public programming, especially in the Bronx, where resources were already spread thin. The Bronx River Alliance has joined New Yorkers for Parks and 25 other conservancies and non profits in forming a coalition to examine the impacts of these cuts on NYC Parks and to advocate for the addition of $47 million to the 2021 to support parks across the city.