Vannie Park could look different with budget cuts


Another annual budget could mean another round of budget cuts for parks like Van Cortlandt and, with every slash, the more difficult the decisions park officials have to make become.

With this year’s round of proposed budget cuts, Van Cortlandt Park could have to adjust to fewer workers and potential pool closings during the summer.

In this year’s proposed budget, the city plans to cut $55 million after having cut $25 million from the budget last fiscal year.

Christina Taylor, deputy director of the Van Cortlandt Park Alliance, is not surprised by the new round of budget cuts but said she is fed up.

“Most people that live in New York City do not have backyards, so Van Cortlandt Park is their backyard,” Taylor said.

Taylor said she is frustrated by the decision because Mayor Eric Adams ran for office promising 1 percent of the city’s budget to parks and he has not delivered.

Liz Garcia, the mayor’s deputy press secretary, told The Press 1 percent for the parks is still the goal.

“The mayor has always said we are aiming to reach that target during his administration, not overnight,” Garcia said.

In March, the Van Cortlandt Park Alliance released a statement with New Yorkers for Parks to argue in favor of the fiscal year 2025 preliminary budget including more funding for parks.

Van Cortlandt Park is the city’s third largest.

Adam Ganser, executive director for New Yorkers for Parks, said 1percent for the city’s budget dedicated to parks is not only possible it’s been done before.

In the 70s, 1 percent was the standard, Ganser said, but, since then, there have been major cuts and now the city’s budget reflects roughly .5 percent for the entire parks department.

Taylor said it’s hard to know exactly what the mayor’s proposed budget cut will look like. Assuming the money is spread equally throughout the five boroughs, Van Cortlandt Park could have to cut 13 staffers. Park officials would also have to cut the second shift that rotates through the park.

Taylor said, without a second shift working in the evenings, the first shift to clean the park every day would arrive at roughly the same time as park goers, who would potentially enter an unclean and unkempt park.

Van Cortlandt Park has also had issues recruiting lifeguards in the past, a necessity to keep the pool open. With additional impending budget cuts, Taylor said she foresees a cut in the park’s learn-to-swim program as well as early swim and adult-swim hours. This is another problem, Taylor said, because the mayor has expressed his desire for all children to learn to swim, but significant cuts to parks programs mean significant cuts to pool programs.

“If the budget keeps getting slashed, those are things we cannot really control,” Taylor said.

Another major concern for Van Cortlandt is the number of park enforcement patrol officers. Taylor said patrol numbers are already at their lowest, and further cuts would ensure no additional officers. She said the Bronx typically has two officers who have to roam the entire borough on an as-needed basis.

The alliance estimates roughly three million people visit the park every year.

New Yorkers for Parks has been around for more than 100 years, advocating for safe, clean green spaces for all city residents. In the past, Ganser said, the organization has successfully advocated for a reversal of $80 million in budget cuts post-Covid.

Ganser said the evidence for parks improving the lives of New Yorkers is irrefutable.

Budget officials have said the city has a $7 billion gap this year and, after balancing the budget in January, have managed to make cuts without tax hikes, layoffs, or major service disruptions.

“The data is clear: our parks are safer and better maintained than they were this time last year,” a city hall spokesperson said, adding the budget continues to undergo review.

The next iteration of the budget will be released in April.



Van Cortlandt Park Budget cuts Park officials Pool closures New York City parks Mayor Eric Adams Park funding Parks advocacy Park maintenance Budget deficit