New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Journalism prof. discusses public park funding at environmental conference

The professor, who co-authored a report detailing ways to increase funding for public park maintenance in the city, deliberated his findings at the Wednesday conference.
(Courtesy of Center for an Urban Future)

John Surico, a CAS professor in the journalism department, spoke with members from environmental activist groups on how to increase funding for public park maintenance in New York City at a Wednesday conference hosted by the Center for an Urban Future, a public policy organization. 

The conference featured members from New York League of Conservation Voters, City Parks Foundation and Prospect Park Alliance, who each emphasized the importance of accessible green spaces across the city’s five boroughs. Surico, an adjunct at NYU, also co-authored a 20-point report featuring ideas on how to fund parks. According to the report, “there is currently no stream of revenue solely dedicated to parks.” The report also suggested that arenas and stadiums across the city implement a mandatory 50 cent or $1 surcharge, and for parks to include at least 10 restaurants or other concessions by 2030.

“People that like New York City parks are really pushing the mayor to care about this, and really build this funding gap that exists between the nicer parks that have the money versus the rest of the parks,” Surico said in an interview with WSN. “We really want to talk — we’re giving them the resources to be able to build themselves up.” 

During the meeting, Julie Tighe, president of NYLCV, referenced the $4.2 billion Environmental Bond Act, which will fund environmental projects in New York state, allocating a minimum of 35% of the spending “towards disadvantaged communities.” In the January 2024 report, Surico mentioned that “the state-adopted equity criteria prioritize areas outside of New York City and exclude significant areas of NYC Parks property located adjacent to environmental justice communities.”

“If there’s new revenue streams, it’s important to have investments and prioritization of disadvantaged communities,” Tighe said at the meeting. “We haven’t treated parks as infrastructure. Parks are vital infrastructure for fighting climate change — parks provide that open space that helps us reduce temperatures, which are very often in low-income neighborhoods and neighborhoods that don’t have enough money to pay for air conditioning.” 

The report suggested following an “80-20 split for all future revenue from new parks concessions,” where 80% of revenue would remain in the park and 20% would be put toward helping parks within less affluent communities that are not able to generate necessary revenue.

In its current financial plan, the New York City Office of Management and Budget outlined it would be investing $475,358 in park and recreation this year and is projected to allocate $460,122 in 2025. 

“People gather, and really continue their lives outside of their apartments which are a few blocks away,” Meera Joshi, New York City’s deputy mayor for operations, said at the conference. “These are the places where creative community happens, these are the places where magic happens, and these are the places that allow New Yorkers to thrive and fulfill their ambition in our city.” 

Contact Maisie Zipfel at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Maisie Zipfel
Maisie Zipfel, Deputy News Editor
Maisie Zipfel is a first-year double majoring in Journalism and Politics, and double minoring in Gender and Sexuality Studies and Spanish. She is a Yerba Mate enthusiast, a Taylor Swift fanatic and an anti-Greek Life turned sorority girl (Deeph or Die). When she’s not writing in the WSN basement you can find her isolated in Palladium for NYU’s Competitive Dance Team practice, obsessing over her Four-Year Plan or trying to weave in time to take a nap. You can reach her on instagram @maisiezipfel, on LinkedIn (her favorite social media platform) @MaeZipfel or preferably on Venmo @mkzipfel.

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