Prospect Park, Long Meadow, Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Sanden Wolff

Urban parks are critical infrastructure— not luxuries. This was something that famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted understood when he and the Olmsted firm created an array of extraordinary park spaces in New York City nearly 200 years ago: Central Park, Fort Greene Park, Prospect Park, Morningside Park, Riverside Park and Fort Tryon. And it is something city leaders must understand today. 

Tragically, budget cuts are affecting parks in New York City, causing maintenance, trash and pest issues. This is seriously misguided given the fact that, post-pandemic, park usage has reached an all-time high.  

In these times, Olmsted’s vision of parks for all people has never been more important. Our cities desperately need democratic spaces where all can come safely together, regardless of background. They need green oases that offer clean air, clean water and a healthy environment to advance mental and physical well-being. They need park spaces that function as a green sponge at a time of climate change. 

Without adequate public support, our parks can easily lose decades of progress. We saw it before in New York City and we can see it again. Reduced budgets mean reduced staffing and resources, which in turn mean less maintenance, less safety, less cleanliness and less accessibility. Reduced funding results in a downward spiral.

Leaders need to commit to NYC park investment and revitalization to ensure a more livable city. Indeed, cutting parks budgets is short sided and counterproductive. A report by the Trust for Public Land makes it clear that investing in parks saves money: children with regular access to nature have fewer diseases like asthma, and heat-related illnesses can be drastically reduced by giving people access to cooling parks. Once parks begin to deteriorate, it becomes increasingly more costly to get them back.   

We believe that New Yorkers deserve vibrant, green and resilient parks. We urge you to join the Play Fair for Parks Coalition (#SaveNYCParks) to show support and call on city leaders to restore funding to these vital resources. Write directly to Mayor Adams and your Council Member here: