2002-04-13 / Community

Addabbo Calls For Restoration of Cuts

Addabbo Calls For Restoration of Cuts

Calling the public's enjoyment of the city parks and beaches an important part of life in the city, Councilman Joseph Addabbo, Chairman of the Council's Parks and Recreation Committee, recommended the full restoration of all Fiscal 2002 Council initiatives, including funding for 51 playground associates and 51 maintenance workers ($2 million), Operation Reach ($75,000), the water safety program ($250,000), and tree and stump removal services ($1.25 million). In addition, Addabbo called for the restoration of six-month seasonal city park worker positions ($5.1 million), funding eliminated from the Parks hiring freeze ($1.5 million), the Lincoln Center contract ($100,000), funding for Manhattan Parks Enforcement Patrol officers ($667,000), and an OTPS reduction ($250,000). "Additionally, adequate funding should be provided for lifeguards to ensure that all of the City's beaches and swimming pools are open for the summer," said Addabbo.

Councilman Addabbo's recommendations came after testimony at a recent Council Parks and Recreation Committee hearing by City Department of Park's and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, former Parks' Commissioner Henry Stern and Mark Rosenthal, President of Local 983 and Treasurer of District Council 37 AFSCME.

Commissioner Benepe highlighted an array of spring recreation programs, such as handball, basketball, indoor soccer, swimming, and volleyball in all five boroughs. To help ensure adequate staffing of city swimming pools and beaches for the summer season Benepe said that the Parks Department is offering lifeguard-training courses in addition to intense local recruiting and targeted international outreach. Last summer, Parks welcomed 10 million visitors to its 53 outdoor swimming pools and seven public beaches.

The Commissioner was asked by the committee members what would happen if the Council did not restore the proposed budget cuts to his department. He said that it would seriously impact on the Parks Department's ability to provide recreational services and maintain cleanliness in the parks.

Commissioner Stern called for full restoration of the Parks Department Budget and suggested that the City dedicate the more than $35 million in concession revenues generated annually to the Parks Department's Budget.

Local 983 President Rosenthal urged the Committee to provide funding in the Fiscal 2003 Expense Budget to hire additional full-time staff in the Parks Department.

Among the many individuals concerned about the city parks who testified before the committee were Rev. Reginald Williams of New Yorkers for Parks and Joseph Pupello of the New York Restoration Project.

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