Last week was an exciting one for most New Yorkers, as we celebrated the New York Giants’ Super Bowl victory. (My sincerest condolences to those who fall in line with another, less successful New York team.)
Here at Parks was no exception, as an eventful winter continued. Here are a few highlights:
Last Week at Parks:
• On Tuesday, February 7, over 100 Parkies worked on one of New York City’s spectacular celebrations, the New York Giants Ticker Tape Parade. The Parks crew, led by Chief of Technical Services Artie Rollins and with representatives from Five Boro, forestry, PEP, and the Manhattan borough began hurried preparations on Monday evening along the parade route. Our crew descended on Battery Park, Bowling Green, City Hall Park, and Foley Square, clearing the route of debris and removing dangerous limbs. All staff in District 1 reported to work at the crack of dawn on Tuesday to handle requests by City Hall, and after helping get the Super Bowl champs loaded back onto their buses after the successful event, our Parks crew provided crucial support for the massive clean-up that followed, including the forestry crews who had to remove tangled streamers of paper from 50-foot-tall trees over the next few days. Thanks to all the Parkies who played a role in ensuring the celebration went off smoothly. As usual we stepped up to the challenge.
• Last week, Shape Up staff (Kendra Koch and three Civic Corps volunteers: Emily Kan, Kalpita Abhyankar, and Greeshma Prasad) conducted mid-point weigh-ins for our New Year, New You Challenge, and we are thrilled that several participants have already lost 10 pounds or more. For those of you who don’t know, Shape Up NYC is a citywide initiative sponsored by Equinox and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, that offers more than 175 free fitness classes per week, including zumba, yoga, pilates, and body conditioning. To keep Shape Up participants motivated, the New Year, New You Challenge was launched on January 9 at ten sites across the five boroughs. In addition to the hundreds of participants from the public, 248 Parkies registered for the Staff Challenge. Final staff weigh-ins will be held the week of March 12th, and with only four weeks remaining, I encourage you all to get (or keep) moving!
• Under the leadership of Deputy Commissioner Blackmon, our Community Outreach division has had a busy few weeks, preparing for three important City Council hearings. On January 30, we had a joint hearing with NYPD on public safety in NYC parks. Assistant Commissioner Dockett testified at the hearing and emphasized the ways our PEP officers partner with NYPD to keep our parks safe. The following day, we participated in a joint hearing before the Environmental Protection committee to discuss the city’s efforts to protect and restore NYC’s wetlands. And finally this past Friday, Assistant Commissioner Joshua Laird testified before the Waterfronts committee on our efforts to protect our 14 miles of beaches from coastal erosion. While coastal erosion is a natural process, the Parks Department is working in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers and the New York Department of State and Department of Environmental Conservation to prevent, minimize, and repair the impact on our coastline. Kudos in particular to Director of Government Affairs, Karen Becker, for all of the hard work and late nights she put in to make sure we were thoroughly prepared for all three hearings. The Community Outreach division may not have much time to catch their breath, though. The Mayor released his Preliminary Budget this past week, so budget season will soon be upon us!
Speaking of public safety and collaboration with the NYPD, I’d like to commend PEP Sergeant Domingo Sanchez for his recent work in the arrest of a suspected thief. On Saturday, December 17, PEP Sgt. Sanchez, on a foot patrol inside Union Square Park, was approached by a police officer from the 13th Precinct. The police officer asked him to keep an eye out for a suspect who had earlier in the day tried to pick the pocket of an individual at the Holiday Market and who we later learned had participated in a string of robberies and was ultimately charged with Grand Larceny. Sgt. Sanchez kept a diligent eye on the crowd, and having spotted someone fitting the suspect’s description, he caught him in the act of reaching into a woman’s purse for her wallet and quickly contacted NYPD who made the arrest.
Sgt. Sanchez performed admirably in this situation, and he is a great example of how our PEP officers, with help from the NYPD, are keeping our parks safe for visitors every day.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
“The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”