2008_07_parkslogo.jpgThe NY Post has a two-part series alleging that city parks, which make up 14% of the land mass of New York City, are the domain of "HOS, JUNKIES, [and] PUSHERS". In part one today, an inspection of a random selection of dozens of parks suggests that they were unmaintained, trash-strewn, and havens for criminal activity. A brief summary of the Post's investigation:

  • Multiple encampments of homeless people in ten separate parks.
  • Prostitutes doing business in a park off the coincidentally named Hoe St. in the Bronx.
  • Drug addicts and dealers getting high and selling in public playgrounds.
  • A nature preserve where stolen vehicles are stripped for parts.
  • Unmaintained green spaces that are overrun by weeds and become dumping grounds for bulk trash.

City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, who supported the Bloomberg administration's efforts in improving New York's parks, pointed out that previous neglect (from other administrations) could not be repaired in one fell swoop. Still, a breakdown of the City budget shows how different parks funding stacks up in the boroughs (about $10,000 is spent to care for one acre in Manhattan or Brooklyn parks, while it's as low as $2,000/acre in Staten Island). Also, only 0.5% of the current city budget is dedicated to park maintenance, versus 1.4% in 1960 (a relative 67% reduction).

Gothamist wrote about the less attractive aspects of Riverside Park in 2006. In 1995, actress Bette Midler helped found the New York Restoration Project, which is a private volunteer group that restores neglected city parks.