David G. Greenfield, a city councilman from Brooklyn, is passionate about parks, having allocated $12.9 million to green spaces in his district since taking office in 2010. “Parks are a great equalizer,” he said. “Whether you’re rich, poor, young, old, you use parks. There really is no better expenditure of government funds than parks.”
But so far, none of the projects he has financed — including rehabilitated handball courts at Colonel David Marcus Playground and a bathroom renovation in Gravesend Park — has been completed. His frustration over the delays is shared by other council members and parks advocates, who say that capital projects in the park system take far too long.
With many small- to medium-size projects financed by council members and borough presidents, the delays are not merely frustrating for park users. They also threaten the well-primed spigot of money that flows from lawmakers’ discretionary funds into neighborhood parks. Often, elected officials miss out on the political payoff of their contributions: a ribbon-cutting with beaming constituents.
“We’ve started calling these ‘legacy projects,’ because it’s a legacy you’ll leave for your successor,” said Mr. Greenfield, whose district includes Borough Park, Bensonhurst and Midwood. “In the outer boroughs, we have council members who refuse to fund parks because they know that the likelihood that the project will be completed while they are in office is not very high.”