Community Board 11 chairman Anthony Vitaliano cited the recent death of a Queens woman in Kissena Park as an example of what can happen when parks aren’t properly maintained. Leaders from the Bronx Park East Community Association, Community Boards 10 and 11 fired off letters to Parks Commissioner Veronica White seeking infusion of maintenance workers, enforcement officers.
(Photo: NYC Park Adovcates) Click on Image to enlarge
The Parks Department refuses to say how many new hires will be assigned to the Bronx.
The Bronx may not be getting its fair share of workers to maintain the borough’s vast network of city-operated parks, or enforcement officers to police them, according to the New York Daily News.
So say residents of several leafy neighborhoods, who are up in arms over what they are calling a dangerous slight on the part of the city.
Leaders from the Bronx Park East Community Association, Community Boards 10 and 11 all fired off letters to Parks Commissioner Veronica White over the past month demanding that the city ramp up staffing levels at parks throughout the Bronx.
“The way I feel is that we are being short-changed,” said Anthony Vitaliano, the Chairman of Community Board 11. “This is potentially a very dangerous situation.”
The Bronx contains more parkland than any other borough, roughly 25% of the city’s greenspace.
District manager Kenneth Kearns of Community Board 10 in the east Bronx said he was told that only 30 to 40 new hires would be assigned to the borough.
“With the amount of parkland in our neighborhoods, the community board believes they should be taken care of and adequately staffed,” Kearns said.
A Parks Department spokesman said that of 414 recent hires, 207 were general parks workers, 81 Parks Enforcement Police officers, 96 maintenance workers and 30 climbers and pruners. The spokesman would not say how many of those would be assigned to the Bronx.
“Staffing for each community board is determined by park usage and adjusted frequently according to park conditions,” the spokesman said.
Vitaliano cited the recent death of a Queens woman in Kissena Park as an example of what can happen when parks aren’t properly maintained.
“They don’t take care of the trees. They don’t trim them, and when it rains the branches are likely to come down,” the retired NYPD lieutenant said.
Board 11 covers Morris Park, Van Nest, Pelham and Allerton.
Pelham Parkway, a tree-covered thoroughfare that stretches across the neighborhoods, has been a frequent barbecue spot on weekends this summer, angering many residents that say the city has done nothing to curb the illegal cookouts.
A Parks Department representative dismissed the claims that Bronx parks are dangerously understaffed.
“Any assertion that Bronx parks receive less than their fair share of staffing, maintenance or funding is simply untrue,” the spokesman said.
Parks in both Community Board 10 and 11 passed more than 94% of agency inspections performed this year, according to the city.
“I think that they’ve been responsive,” a hopeful Kearns said of the city. “There are so many parks here, we just want them to be safe.”
Vitaliano said he wasn’t as convinced that the Bronx would be adequately staffed. “Maybe Manhattan gets the priority,” he said. “But we should be getting more than what we are.”
New York Daily News - August 7, 2013 - By Denus Slattery