On December 21, 2022, the City Council voted to approve three bills that would improve transparency with the Parks Department’s capital projects process and utilize small or micro spaces that can be used for beneficial green space. All three bills were sponsored by Council Member Shekar Krishnan, Chair of the Council Committee on Parks and Recreation.
Int. 174-A requires the Parks Department to expand the agency’s web-based capital projects tracker to provide more information regarding capital projects. The additional information will include the total number of projects in the agency’s portfolio, delays, dates that projects were fully funded, projected and actual cost overruns, funding sources and the time it took to finish each project. The bill’s goal is to increase transparency surrounding capital projects which often frustrate community members, advocates and elected officials due to a lack of information surrounding delays and overspending.
Int. 842-A requires the Parks Department to coordinate with other relevant agencies to develop a strategy to reduce the duration of capital projects by at least 25 percent. The review would include early completion incentives, standardization of timelines, forms and processes, coordination with utility companies, and changing regulatory obstacles if needed. The strategy would need to be complete and submitted to the Speaker of the Council and the Mayor by December 1, 2023.
Int. 680-A requires relevant city agencies to review and identify City-owned sites with dead ends or vacant lots that are suitable for planting trees, vegetation, or establishing small parks or other green spaces. The agencies involved will include but are not limited to Parks, Transportation, Environmental Protection, and Citywide Administrative Services. Other spaces including highway entrances, underpasses and exits will also be considered. The bill’s purpose is to identify these “dead” spaces that can be remade into green spaces that can be beneficial for local cooling and stormwater drainage.
Council Member Krishnan stated, “As the pandemic pushed us indoors, it also revealed the life-saving, restorative value of public open spaces. If we are to meet the challenges of public health, public safety, & climate change in New York City, our parks will be critical. The bills being voted on in today’s Stated Meeting of the City Council will empower us to build more public spaces — parks and playgrounds, athletic fields and recreation centers — faster than ever before.”
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)