12.04.12 | 2pm | Partnerships for Parks

My name is Leah Worrell, and I run Partnerships for Parks’ Partnerships Academy, a training program for community groups that support NYC Parks and green spaces. Our goal through the Partnerships Academy is to empower community leaders with the information and tools they need to make a difference in their neighborhoods and parks.

Partnerships Academy features two types of trainings: one-time workshops, and a six-month long fellowship. Workshops are offered every one to two months on topics geared towards park groups, such as Time Management, Branding, and Working with the Parks Department. The fellowship is a six month long program that supports community groups who are committed to getting to the next level of their development as a group or with a specific project. To learn more about both of these programs, please click here. 

One of the goals of the Partnerships Academy is to connect community leaders to the government officials to increase opportunities for connection and understanding. At a recent workshop, Working with the Parks Department: Essentials for Park Community Groups, community members addressed a panel of six Parks Department officials, from field supervisors to the Deputy Commissioner of the Parks Department. I have compiled some highlights below…

What is the best way for a community member to get their concerns addressed by the Parks Department?

First of all, it’s best to keep Parks Department officials abreast of your activities, not just when you have a concern. Notify Parks department officials of monthly meetings, and invite them to events. Follow up to see if events are on their calendar. To invite a Commissioner to an event, call the Chief of Staff or the Commissioner’s assistant. While it’s good to get to know your Chief and Commissioner, it’s even more important to get to know your park manager, and supervisor. You will be working with them on a far more regular basis. If you have any questions about who to contact for specific concerns, your Outreach Coordinator should be able to

help you.

If you do not hear back right away from a Parks Department official, please reach out again, or contact someone else. The Parks Department relies on the activity of community volunteers and wants to hear from you.

We need plants for our tree pits. We need water for our tree pits. We need metal guards for our tree pits (community is funding many, but we need help).

Private citizens can be more effective than parks in raising money for tree guards and other street tree related resources. Steve Simon mentioned that some community groups in Manhattan have worked with movie companies filming in their parks to fund tree guards.
For more information on street tree resources and other sources of support, check out:

How can we as community members help the Parks Department to get more money from the city?

While Partnerships and the Parks Dept can’t do lobbying or organize city wide efforts, advocates from the public are welcome at public hearings. December through March or April is the best window in which to be a squeaky wheel. You can write letters, visit city council, and get projects on their radar.
2013 is an election year, and is a great time for community groups to get the word out to their elected officials about how important parks are to them. Invite council people to your events, and develop relationships. New Yorkers for Parks heads advocacy efforts if you would like to contact them as well.

At Partnerships for Parks, we are planning workshops for 2013 on fundraising, working with elected officials, and planning successful events in parks. For updates in your inbox about the latest Partnerships Academy offerings, please email me at to be added to my mailing list. You can also learn about upcoming workshops at

Leah Worrel is the Technical Assistance Coordinator: Organizational Development for Partnerships for Parks



See what's going on in your neighborhood or around New York
view our calendar ›