Sunday, January 13, 2013

City Spends Just $ 4.7 Mil. In Parks Department Hurricane Sandy Overtime



Park workers remove a downed tree in Astoria Park in Queens. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.

By Geoffrey Croft

The New York City Independent Budget Office released overtime spending from 42 city agencies as a result of Hurricane Sandy and the Parks Department certainly isn't getting it's fair share.

From October 29 through December 24,  the city spent $ 151.1 million dollars.

"The assumption is that Washington will pick up most if not all these costs," said IBO spokesman Doug Turetsky.

While much of damage occurred on Parks Department owned property -   including boardwalk and shorefront, tens of thousands of downed and damaged trees -  the city allocated just $ 4.7 million dollars in overtime for the agency which is responsible for 14 % of the city's land.  

The agency was responsible for removing destroyed park features including benches and fencing,  clearing out miles of sand, inspecting parks, as well as securing parks and playground during and after the storm.  

Forestry,  maintenance and Park Enforcement were among the titles that received overtime.

A park employee in Pelham Bay Park clears another downed tree.

While parks workers did a Herculean job with the extremely limited resources they were given including personnel and equipment the lack of resources helps explain the agency's slow response that many people experienced including having dozens of parks and playgrounds closed for weeks. 

The City's increasing reliance on volunteers and welfare recipients coupled with its refusal to hire skilled workers also impacted the response.

Park workers also reported being hurt responding to storm conditions including an APSW in Staten Island who was struck by a fallen branch.

December 15, 2012. Mountains of sand were pushed over the Boardwalk in Brighton Beach starting at Beach Walk & extending past Ocean Pkwy. The sand is smothering the plantings where the ground slopes from the boardwalk down to the street. The Parks Dept. is removing it by hand. 

Multiple contractors hired by the Central Park Conservancy to go work. 

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