Why Trash Is Piling Up at N.Y.C. Parks


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So, you’ve noticed more garbage piling up at your public park. You’re not alone.

Across the city’s sprawling park system, New Yorkers are trying to make the most of their hours outdoors, even if it is spent near shattered glass, charcoal heaps and overstuffed trash cans.

The issue is two-pronged: More New Yorkers, deprived of their usual time inside bars, reception halls and friends’ living rooms, have been descending on the city’s public lawns. But the Department of Parks and Recreation has fewer resources to keep up with trash management.

In a recent article, my colleague Sarah Maslin Nir explored why the parks are receiving less care at a time when they seem to be in greater demand. Here’s what she found.

Even in normal times, an uptick in park use like the recent one would have made it harder for workers to keep the green spaces clean. But the city’s fiscal crisis, which was brought on by the pandemic, led to an $84 million cut to parks department funding this fiscal year. That’s a seventh of the department’s total budget.

As a result, the department’s staff has been cut by nearly half. Maintenance hours have been shaved by 25,000 hours per week, too, so crews are able to attend to 400 fewer sites each week.

And earlier this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the department was likely to see more cuts this fall.

“Parks occupy 14 percent of the entire land of the City of New York, so if they are looking rough, the city looks rough and runs the risk — the fear — of going back to the way it was in the ’70s and ’80s,” Adam Ganser, the executive director of the nonprofit New Yorkers for Parks, told Ms. Nir.

“If they are not well taken care of,” he added, “then it feels like the city is not taking care of its citizens.”

Major crimes within city parks, however, were down by about 50 percent between April and June, according to Police Department data.

The parks department has started an awareness campaign urging people to clean up after themselves. City employees will also begin handing out garbage bags to park visitors.

City leaders and neighborhood groups are also working to aid parks. In the Bronx, Ruben Diaz Jr., the borough president, and dozens of volunteers clean up litter on Mondays at Soundview Park. Mr. Diaz calls them “Meaningful Mondays.

Some New York pizza shop owners are reconsidering having the signature slice on their menu. [Washington Post]




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