DC 37 Leaders: More Funds Needed to Maintain City Parks

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Local union presidents Ibn Mann (Local 1507), Joe Puleo (Local 983), Daniel Clay (1507) and Mike Zeno (1508) gather after a City Council hearing on the Department of Parks and Recreation’s budget. Photo: Clarence Elie-Rivera.

By RUDY OROZCO

The presidents of four DC 37 locals with members in the Department of Parks and Recreation called for more funding in the city budget during a recent City Council hearing.

Appearing at the Committee on Parks and Recreation hearing were Joe Puleo, president of New York City Motor Vehicles Operators Local 983; Mike Zeno, president of Uniformed Park Services Local 1508; Parks Gardeners Local 1507 President Daniel Clay and New York City Department of Parks Climbers & Pruners Local 1506 President Ibn Mann.

Each spelled out staffing needs to keep neighborhood parks safe and clean.

Puleo, who represents urban park rangers and PEP officers in the Parks Department thanked the City Council for “working with us to increase parks funding in the city budget which kept 50 urban park rangers and 80 PEP officers on the job.”

But he stressed the need to make those funds permanent, which would mean Parks advocates would no longer have to fight for funding during every annual budget cycle.

Zeno said that more funding is needed to keep the parks properly maintained.

“The money the city allocates for parks in the budget is not enough to maintain them,” Zeno reminded Council members at the Sept. 26 hearing. “Between the cost of staff, supplies and equipment, the funding is inadequate.”

Mann noted that in addition to the work they do in parks, members of his local also maintain trees in the city’s neighborhoods.

DC 37’s Parks Department members maintain 1,000 playgrounds, 800 athletic fields, 550 tennis courts, 65 swimming pools, 14 miles of beaches, and 51 recreational facilities.

The current Parks Department expense budget stands at $563.6 million, less than 1 percent of city’s budget.

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