DOE free summer meals for ALL children starts today in Sara Roosevelt Park

Free lunch for children up to 18 years old…Rivington playground entrance.

Download flyers from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s Office:

 http://manhattanbp.nyc.gov/downloads/pdf/2015%20Summer%20Meals%20District%201.pdf

 

Summer Meals: The Summer Meals program provides free, healthy breakfast and lunch to all children—regardless of New York City residency—ages 18 and under at hundreds of locations around the City. Children do not need to register or show any kind of documentation or ID to enjoy a delicious meal. The Summer Meals program begins this Saturday, June 27, and will be available up until the first day of the 2015-16 school year.

Find a list of all Summer Meals locations by visiting schoolfoodnyc.org, texting “NYCMEALS” to 877-877, or calling 311. You can also download a free SchoolFood Feed Your Mind App (for both Apple and Android phones), which provides locations for Summer Meals locations. Find the app by searching “Feed Your Mind” in the app store. Please note that Summer Meals locations are subject to change: new locations will be added through the summer, and others may be removed. Location information will be updated regularly.

IMG_3830

Ladybugs!

Ladybugs successfully released: Thanks to Jenifer, Bud and thank you Chyna!

 

Lady Bug Release in the Garden

The annual Ladybug release is happening again in the garden this weekend. Invite your friends. Bring the kids.

ladybug72

ladybug72sp

ladyBugCh

COMMITTEE ON PARKS AND RECREATION – HON. MARK D. LEVINE, CHAIR

FISCAL 2016 PRELIMINARY BUDGET HEARING

March 9, 2015

  • Today there are a total of only 28 Parks Rangers for all of New York City–down dramatically from nearly 200 in years past. Rangers serve as ambassadors to the natural world, supporting environmental education, outdoor recreation, wildlife management and active conservation. But today their number is so paltry that most New Yorkers will simply never come into contact with them and might not ever be aware of their existence.
  • Our city’s sprawling network of natural areas, which totals more than 10,000 acres, is today supported by a total staff of only 75, far less than what we need to adequately maintain these natural resources, which play such an important part in our city’s environmental resilience.
  • The budget for supporting our city’s 600 vitally important community gardens is so small that we can only purchase a total of 150 tools annually–that’s just 1 new tool for every 4 gardens.
  • Despite the fact that better parks enforcement consistently ranks at the top of the priority list for residents in every one of our districts, our city’s 1,700 parks are patrolled by a total of only 240 PEP officers, 98 of whom are privately funded and thus serve only a select few parks.  The entire borough of the Bronx, with its 7,000 acres of park land, has only 26 PEP officers, and on any given shift there might be as few as 4 or 5 on duty there.
  • At a time when New Yorkers increasingly demand digital connectivity for professional and personal purposes, only 56 of our 1,700 parks have wifi access, and only 20 of those offer completely free access.

 

OPENING  STATEMENT

Good morning, and welcome to the Parks and Recreation Committee’s Hearing on the Fiscal 2016 Preliminary Budget and the Fiscal 2015 Preliminary Mayor’s Management Report for the Department of Parks and Recreation. My name is Mark Levine and I am the Chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee.

In line with the budget process mandated by the City Charter that ultimately will lead to the adoption of the Fiscal 2016 budget, today we will hear testimony from the Department of Parks and Recreation on its Expense and Capital Budgets for Fiscal 2016.

New York City’s parks system has improved dramatically in almost every way in recent years–with better upkeep, greater safety, and dazzling new renovations. And the most recent Mayor’s Management Report shows that the upward trend has continued over the past year.  The Parks Department accomplished this feat, despite a tight operating budget, thanks to the creativity and hard work of its staff, the efforts of thousands of volunteers, and the increasing generosity of private donors.

But improvements in our parks system have not been felt equally throughout the city.  That fact is inseparable from the decades-long decline in what we spend on our park system relative to the size of the City’s total budget.  Increased public spending is vital to the well being of our precious green spaces, especially in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods that lack access to the private dollars that have flowed into parks in wealthier areas of our city.

A few statistics illustrate some of the countless ways in which inadequate public funding impacts our parks and the millions of New Yorkers who rely on them:

  • Today there are a total of only 28 Parks Rangers for all of New York City–down dramatically from nearly 200 in years past. Rangers serve as ambassadors to the natural world, supporting environmental education, outdoor recreation, wildlife management and active conservation. But today their number is so paltry that most New Yorkers will simply never come into contact with them and might not ever be aware of their existence.
  • Our city’s sprawling network of natural areas, which totals more than 10,000 acres, is today supported by a total staff of only 75, far less than what we need to adequately maintain these natural resources, which play such an important part in our city’s environmental resilience.
  • The budget for supporting our city’s 600 vitally important community gardens is so small that we can only purchase a total of 150 tools annually–that’s just 1 new tool for every 4 gardens.
  • Despite the fact that better parks enforcement consistently ranks at the top of the priority list for residents in every one of our districts, our city’s 1,700 parks are patrolled by a total of only 240 PEP officers, 98 of whom are privately funded and thus serve only a select few parks.  The entire borough of the Bronx, with its 7,000 acres of park land, has only 26 PEP officers, and on any given shift there might be as few as 4 or 5 on duty there.
  • At a time when New Yorkers increasingly demand digital connectivity for professional and personal purposes, only 56 of our 1,700 parks have wifi access, and only 20 of those offer completely free access.

The Parks Department’s preliminary FY2016 budget does not address any of these pressing needs.  In fact, while there is a nominal increase in the department’s budget from $413 million in FY15 to $428 million for FY16, this actually represents a slight drop in the portion of the total city budget we are devoting to our parks, from 0.56% this year to 0.55% next year.

At a time when usage of our parks system is soaring–with over 3.3 million visitors annually to our 35 recreation centers alone–this proposed budget may actually amount to a decrease in funding per user.  And on the critical measure of headcount, the 6,936 full-time equivalent positions that would be funded under the proposed FY16 budget would actually represent a drop of 90 employees.

Nor does the department’s preliminary budget include baselining of any of the enhanced funding measures which the City Council put in place last year.  This included:

  • $5 million for Park Enforcement Officers
  • $8.7 million for park maintenance workers
  • $1 million for tree pruning
  • $750,000 for stump removal
  • and $750,000 for our Parks Equity Initiative, which helps support volunteer stewardship groups in parks in low- and moderate-income areas.

The lack of baselining of any of this funding is particularly puzzling because much of it was used to support the mayor’s excellent Community Parks Initiative.  I am hopeful that in its executive budget the administration will find the funds to sustain CPI and all of the other vital initiatives the Council supported last year.

But I hope that the mayor’s executive budget proposal will go further than just restoring last year’s funding.  Among the additional funds I hope we will see are:

  • $3.5M for GreenThumb, an amount which would fund 15 new staff positions, including increased staffing for the school garden program, the Land Restoration Program, and GreenThumb Outreach Coordinators. This would also provide funding to procure resources such as lumber, compost, and soil for gardens citywide.
  • I’d like to see $3M for 40 additional Urban Park Rangers to supplement this dwindling program, for the important reasons I described earlier.
  • I’d like to see additional funding to ensure beaches and pools are open past labor day through to the end of September, at least on weekends.
  • I’d like to see $3.5M in additional funding for the Natural Resources Group, which would allow it to deploy a full crew to each borough.
  • I’d like to see $500K added to the budget to support a Master Planning process for the city’s mid-sized parks–especially those which are regional draws with high usership.
  • I’d like to see $3M in additional funds for the Trees and Sidewalk program, which helps repair severe sidewalk damage caused by tree and root growth, and has experienced significant cuts in recent years, creating a huge backlog in repair orders.
  • I’d like to see $5M added for the hiring of an additional 200 playground associates to build the peak-season staffing level for all playgrounds.  These important staffers provide both programmatic playground support and maintenance of comfort stations, and currently we have far too few to serve all 680 playgrounds which have comfort stations.

Lest this all sound like an extravagant shopping list, I’ll point out that every one of these enhancements combined would only push the Parks Department budget from 0.55% to 0.57% of the City’s total budget.

There are increases in the Parks capital budget which I’d like to see as well, including items in relation to two expense items I have just mentioned:

  • $5M capital budget increase to GreenThumb to provide for infrastructure needs such as fencing, irrigation systems, other equipment for our city’s 600 community gardens.
  • and I’d also like to see a substantial allocation of capital money, perhaps $200 million, for the mid-sized or regional parks which serve so many New Yorkers but have urgent unmet large-scale investment needs.

 

 

A Bill to Improve Parks Maintenance Reporting and regular updates on Capital Projects- Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Parks & Recreation

“This bill would require the Parks Department (DPR) to provide an annual report to the Mayor and Council on maintenance spending on a park-by-park basis, and would require regular online posting of  updates regarding capital projects.”

Committee on Parks and Recreation

June 19, 2015

Opening Statement

Proposed Int. No 154-A

Good Afternoon. My name is Mark Levine, and I am the Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Parks & Recreation. I want to welcome you to our hearing on Proposed Int. No. 154-A, whose lead sponsor is my colleague Council Member Brad Lander. This bill would require the Parks Department (DPR) to provide an annual report to the Mayor and Council on maintenance spending on a park-by-park basis, and would require regular online posting of  updates regarding capital projects.

In February the Council passed, and the mayor signed, Local Law 16 in order to answer the first question. This law, which Council Member Lander and I co-sponsored, establishes regular, uniform reporting for conservancies of the amount of private funding they received.

The legislation we are taking up today seeks to answer the second critical question.

The Parks Department has steadily improved the overall level of maintenance of our City’s parks in recent years–a particularly impressive feat in light of the department’s stagnating expense budget.

But anyone who has visited a variety of parks across the five boroughs knows that the quality of conditions varies widely from park to park. There are many possible explanations for this, including variable rates of usage, different types of terrain, and differing histories of capital investment.

Intro. 154-A seeks to shed light on another possible explanation for the variation in park conditions: differing levels of maintenance resources expended by the department.

Specifically this bill would require DPR to submit an annual report to the Council on maintenance work performed at each property under its jurisdiction on or before December 1 of each year. This report would include:

  • whether each park has permanent or mobile maintenance staff assigned to it,

  • the weekly average and dollar value of work-hours performed by maintenance staff at each property on a quarterly basis, and

  • the total weekly average dollar value of specific maintenance services provided at each property.

We understand that the challenge of determining cost allocation in any organization is significant–even well-funded corporations often struggle with this.  And we know that the Parks Department is still developing its system for tracking and analyzing expenditures on a per-park basis.  So intro 154-A would allow the DPR commissioner, upon 30 days notice to the Mayor and the Council, to amend the data included in the report as its systems evolve. The bill also allows DPR to phase in reporting over the next two years.

Finally, Intro 154-A would give the public additional information on Parks Capital projects, to be posted at least quarterly on the department’s website.

I look forward to our discussion of Proposed Intro 154-A, and to moving this important legislation forward. I’d now like to invite Council Member Lander to present opening remarks on the bill.

Posted by

Young People help out the M’Finda Kalunga Garden and the Elizabeth Hubbard Memorial Garden in Sara Roosevelt Park

Bob, Kate, K, Jenifer, Carol and the Gardeners give thanks for the great help given by young people, Ms Finch and Ms. Maddox!

And we had a visitor who was very interested in our dirt pile!

Turning Madness into Flowers – Alice Walker

Garden flowers 2008 - 2

Turning Madness into Flowers

It is my thought that the ugliness of war, of gratuitous violence in all its hideous forms, will cease very soon to appeal to even the most insulated of human beings. It will be seen by all for what it is: a threat to our well-being, to our survival as a species, and to our happiness. The brutal murder of our common mother, while we look on like frightened children, will become an unbearable visceral suffering that we will refuse to bear. We will abandon the way of the saw, the jackhammer and the drill.

Of bombs, too.

As religious philosophies that espouse or excuse violence reveal their true poverty of hope for humankind, there will be a great awakening, already begun, about what is of value in life.

We will turn our madness into flowers as a way of moving completely beyond all previous and current programming of how we must toe the familiar line of submission and fear, following orders given us by miserable souls who, somehow have managed to almost completely control us. We will discover something wonderful: that the world really does not enjoy following psychopaths, those who treat the earth our mother, as if she is wrong, and must be corrected, in as sadistic and domineering a way as that of a drunken husband who kills his wife.

The world – the animals, including us humans – wants to be engaged in something entirely other, seeing, and delighting in, the stark wonder of where we are: This place. This gift. This paradise.

We want to follow joy.

And we shall.

The madness, of course, for each one of us, will have to be sorted out.

Alice Walker
flowers mkgarden

M’Finda Kalunga Garden hosts another Lady Bug release

Once again the garden Critter Committee is planning another Lady Bug release on Saturday, June 27. Join in. Bring the kids!

ladybug72

MOCA CINEMA at Columbus Park

 

 

NYC PARKS PRESENTS:

MOCA Film Series - Columbus park

Join NYC Parks and the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) for three film screenings at the Columbus Park in June.

 

To reserve a seat, RSVP to manhattan.acf@parks.nyc.gov This event is FREE and open to the public.

About MOCA: The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is a non-profit institution that preserves, presents and explores the diverse history, heritage and culture of people of Chinese descent in the United States through innovative exhibitions, educational initiatives, and public programs. Visit www.mocanyc.org to find out more and check out its calendar of upcoming events!

 

Columbus Park Pavilion (Bayard, Baxter, & Mulberry Streets)

 

Friday, June 19 // 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Special Preview of Lucky Chow (2015)

Directed by Bruce Seidel.  This preview is co-presented by the Center for Asian American Media.

 

The Columbus Park Pavilion will be open one hour before the film starts. Glass bottles and alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited.

 

Friday, June 26* // 8:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon (1985)

Directed by Michael Schultz

* The June 26 screening will be held at the Columbus Park Ball

Field, where chairs are prohibited. Patrons are encouraged to bring

a blanket or towel for seating.

 

 

Information can also be found on film screening at the parks website events page listing.

 

All events are FREE and open to the public. The MOCA CINEMA June 26th film showing will be on the Columbus Park Turf Field—RSVP is not necessary for this date.

Today is Bob’s birthday

Stop by and wish him well!

 

 

IMG_1469