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Advocates say New York City budget cuts have led to poor park maintenance as spring approaches

Advocates, lawmakers blame budget cuts for trash, pests at NYC parks
Advocates, lawmakers blame budget cuts for trash, pests at NYC parks 02:03

NEW YORK -- With spring upon us, more New Yorkers are expected in city parks, but advocates and lawmakers say budget cuts have kept them from being maintained well.

A trash bin instructs park-goers "Your litter goes here," but when the bin gets full, it ends up on the ground, in the grass and along curbs.

"This park used to be the most cleanest but now everywhere you look, there's garbage," Bronx resident Yacine Diop said.

Upkeep across city parks hasn't been the same recently. This may be due to November's 5% budget cut towards the city parks department, which has led to shorter staff to keep up with trash cleanup. This has brought more pests to parks, like Claremont Park in the Bronx, too.

"We always used to go in the park in the summer to do barbecues with families and neighbors, but now we really can't do that because there's so much garbage and besides the garbage there's a lot of rats that runs around," Diop said.

"I'm afraid to go inside the park like, I am ... Because they have a lot of animals that we don't know that live there," Bronx resident Wendy Pena said.

Mayor Eric Adams' office announced earlier this week that it's canceling its next round of agency budget cuts. When asked at a parks event earlier Friday about parks department cuts, he referred to the reason for the cuts.

"I have to navigate the city out of the crises like I navigated as a police officer out of crime. I want parks in our communities, like these, but I've got to be fiscally responsible," the mayor said.

But lawmakers and advocates like the council's parks chair, Councilmember Shekar Krishnan, say the damage is already done.

"When you cut from parks, it is the cleaning services for parks that are hurt the most. It is the workers that are hurt the most," he said. "And other ideas that bring money into our parks department means cleaner parks, means safer parks."

For now, residents like Pena feel residents themselves need to do their part in keeping parks clean, too.

"No, they're not helping the way they're supposed to be helping. Because if you're part of the community, you have to do something about it," she said.

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