Reorganize how the parks department works. Get high schoolers into a “pipeline” to fill green jobs. Bring back the rangers. And enlist neighbors to pick up all that litter!
Those are among the ideas offered by mayoral candidate Shafiq Adbussabur for taking the city’s parks to the next level.
Abdussabur, one of three Democrats seeking to defeat incumbent Mayor Justin Elicker in a Sept. 12 primary, offered those ideas in a platform released Tuesday promising to “bring back the Parks Department.”
“I pledge to recommit the city’s leadership to our green spaces. Under the current administration, our parks have become an undervalued and overlooked asset,” Abdussabur is quoted as stating in the release.
Platform highlights include:
• Holding job fairs and working with other government agencies and nonprofits tp create am AmeriCorps-style “green-collar jobs” “school-to-parks pipeline” teen program to fill department vacancies, including park rangers, and to develop a future workforce.
• Undo Elicker’s public works-parks maintenance department merger and put the restored parks department under the aegis of the Economic Development Administration so that “New Haven parks won’t be treated like problems to be solved but instead as assets in need of care and enrichment, just as they enrich the lives of New Haven residents. (Click here to read a previous article about concerns about park maintenance under the merger.)
• Enlist citizens and a multi-department government task force in a “citywide anti-litter campaign” to “increase public awareness of city resources to remove garbage, change behaviors, and introduce practical and creative tools to reduce litter and illegal dumping.”
Abdussabur also called for ending the Parks Commission’s little-known lifetime appointment rules and criticized the mayor for supporting the sale of a Kensington Street playground to an affordable housing developer and for closing off the East Rock Park access road. He argued that the latter move “improve[d] access for East Rockers while contributing to crime-related issues in the abutting Cedar Hill neighborhood.”