New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
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|Formed||1976, origins date back to 1800s|
|Preceding Agency||New York City Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs Administration|
|Jurisdiction||New York City|
|Headquarters||830 Fifth Avenue New York, New York|
|Agency executive||Mitchell Silver, Commissioner|
|Parent agency||New York City|
The City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation (colloquially, the Parks Department) is the department of government of the City of New York responsible for maintaining the city's parks system, preserving and maintaining the ecological diversity of the city's natural areas, and furnishing recreational opportunities for city's residents and visitors.
The total area of the properties maintained by the department is over 28,000 acres (113 km²).
The department maintains more than 1,700 parks, playgrounds and recreation facilities across the five boroughs. It is responsible for over 1,000 playgrounds, 800 playing fields, 550 tennis courts, 35 major recreation centers, 66 pools, 14 miles (23 km) of beaches, and 13 golf courses, as well as seven nature centers, six ice skating rinks, over 2000 greenstreets and four major stadiums. Parks also cares for park flora and fauna, community gardens, 23 historic houses, over 1,200 statues and monuments, and more than 2.5 million trees.
The City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation produces many special events, including concerts and movie premieres. In the summer, the busiest season, the agency organizes free carnivals and concerts, and sends mobile recreation vans to travel throughout the five boroughs providing free rental equipment for skating, baseball, and miniature golf.
The largest single component of parkland maintained by the department is the "forever wild" Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, with an area of 2,765 acres (11 km²). The department is also responsible for such "flagship" parks facilities as Central Park, Prospect Park, Van Cortlandt Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and the Staten Island Greenbelt, though many of these parks are maintained by private, non-profit conservancies.
The department is allocated an expense budget and a capital budget. The expense budget covers the total expenses incurred by the agency, including salaries. The capital budget is dedicated solely for new construction projects, as well as major repairs in parks that have a useful life of more than five years and cost at least $35,000.
- Commissioner of Parks & Recreation
- First Deputy Commissioner
- Deputy Commissioner for Capital Projects
- Assistant Commissioner for Public Programs
- Assistant Commissioner for Recreation and Programming
- Assistant Commissioner for Urban Park Services
- Deputy Commissioner for Management and Budget
- Assistant Commissioner for Budget and Fiscal Management
- Assistant Commissioner for Revenue and Marketing
- Deputy Commissioner for Community Outreach
- Assistant Commissioner for Citywide Operations
- Assistant Commissioner for Community Relations
- Assistant Commissioner for Forestry and Horticulture
- Assistant Commissioner for Not-for-Profit Partnerships
- Assistant Commissioner for Planning and Natural Resources
- Assistant Commissioner for Strategic Partnerships
- Borough Commissioners
- Bronx Commissioner
- Brooklyn Commissioner
- Manhattan Commissioner
- Queens Commissioner
- Staten Island Commissioner
- First Deputy Commissioner
Park Law Enforcement
The department maintains an enforcement division, called the Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP), responsible for maintaining safety and security within the parks system. Parks Enforcement Patrol officers have peace officer status under NYS Penal Law and are empowered through this status to make arrests and issue tickets. PEP officers patrol land, waterways and buildings under the jurisdiction of the Department of Parks and Recreation on foot, bicycle, horseback, boat and marked patrol trucks. NYC Park Enforcement Patrol officers are also responsible for physical site inspections of NYC park concession facilities to assure the concessioners compliance with state laws.
Urban Park Rangers
The Urban Park Rangers, founded as a pilot program in 1979, by then Parks Commissioner Gordon J. Davis, with the support and encouragement of then Mayor Edward I Koch, have now for 35 years, provided many free programs year-round, such as nature walks and activities. They also operate programs such as The Natural Classroom for class trips and the general public alike. "Explorer" programs are available for activities such as canoeing in the city's flagship parks in all five boroughs. NYC Urban Park Rangers are easily identified by their uniforms.
Although NYC Park Rangers possess peace officer status their primary mission is park historic and natural interpretationeducation and protection of park resources and visitor safety. Law Enforcement in the NYC Parks is the responsibility of the New York City Police Department. A Parks Enforcement Patrol, established in 1981, is responsible for patrolling regional parks, monitoring park use for potential violations of Park's Rules and Regulations, and NYC Laws and Codes, such as illegal vending. The Parks Enforcement Patrol Officers wear a uniform different from the Urban Park Rangers, including a night stick for protection and summons book for issuance of notices of violations.
Most businesses that operate or generate revenue on New York City parkland are considered concessions and must obtain a permit or license from the Revenue Division of Parks. Pursuant to the City's Concession Rules, these licenses and permits are generally awarded through a public solicitation process, such as a Request for Bids (RFB) or Request for Proposals (RFP).
Approximately 500 concessions currently operate in parks throughout the five boroughs, and they generally fall into two categories: food service and recreation. The food service concessions range from pushcarts selling hot dogs to restaurants such as Tavern on the Green and Terrace on the Park. Recreational concessions include facilities such as ice rinks, stables, marinas, and golf courses. In fiscal year 2009, the Revenue Division of the Parks Department helped collect over $110 million in revenue from various sources including concessions, lease agreements, like those for Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, special events, and dockage.
Wright vs. Stern
In 2001, the department underwent an investigation after the U.S Attorney's Office received complaints from employees that they had suffered employment discrimination. The lawsuit alleged that the Parks Department violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against employees on the basis of their race and/or national origin in making promotion decisions. According to the Complaint, the Parks Department's senior managers sought out and promoted whites to management positions without announcing job openings for those positions or conducting any formal interview process, all in plain disregard of the Parks Department's own stated equal employment opportunity policies. From at least 1995, minorities have been significantly under-represented in the Parks Department's managerial ranks according to the Complaint. The judge had ruled that the plaintiffs had presented substantial evidence to merit a trial on the allegations of class-wide discrimination in pay, promotions and retaliation. In 2008, the City of New York agreed to pay $21 million to settle the federal class action lawsuit. By agreeing to settle the claims, the City avoided a trial on the allegations.
- Foderaro, Lisa (Mar 20, 2014). "North Carolina Planner Named to Head New York City Parks Dept.". NYTimes. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
- Chiwaya, Nigel (Jan 23, 2014). "Ydanis Rodriguez and Mark Levine Tapped to Lead Council Committees". DNAinfo. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
- City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation official site