Officials have confirmed on Sunday, March 13 that more than 100 park projects stalled by a pandemic construction pause will resume progress this spring.
The projects across the city total $417 million in improvements, Mayor Eric Adams said at the groundbreaking at Saratoga Park in Brownsville.
“Parks is not a luxury, it is a necessity,” Adams said. “Regardless of your ZIP code, your ethnicity, regardless of the language you speak, you should have a park where you can enjoy lifetime memories.”
Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue said Saratoga Park hadn’t seen major improvements in more than 20 years, emblematic of the neglect of parks in poorer neighborhoods. The city is investing $2.2 million in a complete renovation of the park.
“We know that there’s been a focus for the most part in the centralizing of resources in certain parks in our city. You don’t see it in others. Those days are over,” Adams said.
Adams spoke of the projects in part as a jobs program, paying workers so they can live in the neighborhoods they are improving. Minority- and women-owned businesses would be awarded 50% of the projects. And 62% of projects are in underserved neighborhoods, according to the city’s Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity.
The first few months of Adams’ administration have been punctuated by high profile hate crimes and incidents of violence, including a stabbing of two employees at the Museum of Modern Art and the shooting of two homeless men Saturday. On Sunday, with the attackers in both cases yet to be apprehended, Adams spoke of parks as a tool to bridge communities and heal divisions.
“You watch babies, they play, they enjoy each other, they don’t ask what culture you’re from. We humans have screwed this darn thing up,” Adams said.
“Let these children enjoy each other and enjoy the diversity of not only the diversity in the plants and trees in parks, but the diversity of the human experience. That’s what these parks must represent so we can raise children that won’t attack each other.”
Many of the projects will include “sustainability features,” the mayor’s office said. More than 86% of the projects will include sustainable aspects ranging from new trees and rain gardens to installing LED lights and using recycled material.