The cost of Mayor de Blasio’s program to overhaul dozens of small parks and playgrounds has skyrocketed by $33 million, officials revealed Monday.
In September 2016, the city said that as part of the Community Parks Initiative, 67 outdoor spaces that had gone for decades without repairs would get full renovations at a cost of $285 million.
On Monday, officials identified 11 more of the parks that are slated for rehab — with the overall number still at 67 — giving an updated estimated cost of $318 million.
“We make adjustments as we actually experience the real costs. That’s the simple answer,” the mayor said when asked about the price hike at Joseph C. Sauer Park in the East Village — one of the 11 newly identified sites.
“So the original was the projection. As we have proceeded with it, the cost has gone up,” Hizzoner added. “Obviously it’s a meaningful amount of money, but we think it’s a fair amount for what we’re achieving.”
Elected officials have been critical of the Parks Department’s ability to keep capital projects on budget and on time for years.
In July, Brooklyn City Council member David Greenfield ripped the administration for taking 7.5 years and spending $2 million just to build a 400-square-foot restroom at a small park in his district.
At a budget hearing in May, Bronx City Council member Ritchie Torres was equally incredulous that the cost of repairing a ball field in his district had more than doubled in three years from $4 million to $10.5 million.
“It feels like the Parks capital projects are the most inflationary products,” Torres told Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver at a hearing in May.
“They’re more inflationary than health care, than higher education and the price of oil,” he said. “The only agency in which I see a twofold or a threefold increase in the cost of a capital project is yours.”
A month earlier, elected officials in Albany introduced legislation in a bid to tackle the problem by creating an independent Parks Construction Authority.
Parks advocate Geoffrey Croft said that on top of the spending snafus, the agency has also bumped projects in the mayor’s initiative to the front of the line — derailing other projects that have been in the pipeline for years.
“Their capital division is a disaster,” said Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates. “A lot of their projects are either being stopped or slowed down because this is a mayoral…