When schools and colleges shut down in March, when stores began admitting only a trickle of customers at a time, and bars and movie theaters, gyms and restaurants closed to the public, New York’s parks became one of the few places where people could escape their apartments or houses.
That put parks in the spotlight as the city began to enforce social distancing rules. Playgrounds were closed. Debate erupted over how distancing was being enforced.
Now that the mandate to stay at home has been eased, parks remain at the crux of debate about public health and public financing. The mayor’s decision to open parks but ban swimming has prompted an outcry. Meanwhile, proposed budget cuts to the already underfunded Parks Department threaten to strain the system during a summer when New Yorkers will likely flood to those spaces.
“The issue now is really management,” says Adam Ganser, the executive director of New Yorkers for Parks. “We’re looking at significant cuts to the parks department exactly where we need to be funding more for the parks department that they can manage these spaces and people can have access to them during the pandemic.”
Ganser on Wednesday joined the Max & Murphy Show (which airs Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI) to discuss the questions the city faces over parks management, and the fiscal squeeze hitting the Parks Department and the nonprofits that play key roles in administering much of New York’s green space.
Hear our conversation below, or listen to the full show, which includes a discussion about possible cuts to the capital budget for affordable housing.
Adam Ganser on parks and the pandemic
Max & Murphy Full Show of June 10, 2020
With reporting by Anika Chowdhury