This past week, we presented testimony at the City Council’s preliminary budget hearing and geared up for a great new summer youth program in Van Cortlandt Park.
Preliminary Budget Hearing
Last Thursday, I testified before the City Council on our agency’s preliminary budget for Fiscal Year 2013. I used my testimony to highlight our many successes over the past year. We have delivered on our promises to build stunning new open spaces in all five boroughs. We have continued to improve the efficiency of our maintenance and operations while responding to a parade of severe storms and other meteorological mayhem. We have worked to improve the health and fitness of the children and adults who use our parks, playgrounds and recreation centers. And, that’s just the beginning. I also used my remarks to lay out our priorities for the year ahead, from making major strides on our PlaNYC initiatives to finding new efficiencies in our maintenance operations and expanding our network of Parks partners.
But, I also made it clear to the Council that continued budget cuts and reduced staff levels are making it more challenging to meet our core mission. An increase in the use, size and complexity of our parks, coupled with a decrease in the resources to oversee them, challenges our ability to deliver the high quality services the public has come to expect. Thanks the hard work of every one of you, I was able to assure the Council that, with their partnership, we will continue to work smarter and harder through these tough economic times to open and operate world-class parks and playground in every borough of our city.
I want to thank all of those throughout the agency who worked so hard to prepare for last week’s budget hearing. This is just the first step in a long budget process, but you should feel good about the work you did to ensure we could put our best foot forward in advocating for our agency.
Van Cortlandt Green Jobs for Youth
On March 20, the New York Daily News highlighted a new Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy program called Green Jobs for Youth. Green Jobs for Youth is a paid, seven-week summer program for Bronx High School students that will combine hands-on field experience with a three credit college level Environmental Science course at CUNY Lehman College. When students are not in labs and classes at Lehman, they will apprentice with our horticulturists and forest restoration staff in the field. The program will focus on four types of green careers: Forest Restoration; Nursery Management; Turf Management, and Community Gardening. All interested students must apply by April 4 and meet several academic criteria. The Daily News’ article focused on Program Director Paulina Mohamed, who has worked extremely hard to get this program ready.
This week, I’d like to recognize Parks Enforcement Patrol’s (PEP) Deputy Inspector Edwin Rodriguez. Edwin is extremely hardworking, dedicated, and conscientious, and he recently excelled while taking on extra responsibilities due to Inspector Robert Reeves’ recent medical leave. His organizational acumen and ability to bring out the best in his staff has been instrumental in allowing PEP to maintain a high level of productivity and efficiency in the current climate of fiscal constraint and shrinking resources. As Deputy Inspector, Edwin oversees PEP Time and Leave operations and deployment of officers in various commands and plans special task forces and enforcement initiatives to address serious concerns such as illegal dumping, ATV use, theft and vandalism, and vendor issues. Edwin is a walking reference manual of Parks’ Rules and Regulations. His knowledge of NYC laws, Parks rules, and operations makes him a valued information resource for field officers and the public.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
“The moment a man stops breathing is the moment he petrifies inside.”
(1942 - )