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Prospect Park Alliance head named NYC Parks Commissioner

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Photo by Trey Pentecost

The longtime steward of Prospect Park will soon oversee all the city’s green spaces, as Mayor Eric Adams has named Sue Donoghue as the Commissioner of the Parks Department. 

“Thank you Mayor Adams. I am thrilled and humbled to be taking on this new role as Parks Commissioner, and I’m so pleased to be joining your administration — an administration that understands the important roles that parks play in the health and well-being of all New Yorkers,” Donoghue said at a Friday ceremony announcing her appointment. 

Adams, the former Brooklyn Borough President, praised Donoghue’s “unprecedented” commitment to providing city dwellers with adequate outdoor space, which has become especially vital during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“Sue and I have worked so much together in Prospect Park,” Adams told the press. “The quality is unprecedented — when you look at how Prospect Park was prior to Sue’s arrival, and then you look now at how she is opening the gate, opening the space, and opening the lives of so many people that use the park,” Hizzoner said. 

Now, after years of working in Brooklyn’s Backyard, Donoghue will oversee management of over 5,000 public spaces across more than 30,000 acres of land in New York City — including over 1,000 playgrounds, and hundreds of recreational facilities.

In addition, the Park Department has control over miles of beaches, along with 65 pools and 13 golf courses. 

The agency, which was first led by the notorious Robert Mosses in 1934, has most recently be run by Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff, who assumed the role in September of 2021. 

New Yorkers for Parks, an advocacy group, hailed the news of Donoghue’s accession on social media, and pushed the Adams Administration to dedicate 1 percent of the city budget to improvement of parks. 

 

Donoghue, while thanking Adams for the appointment, hailed the city’s parks as critical tools for addressing environmental issues, while also touching on the sentimental role parks play in the lives of New Yorkers. 

“As the mayor knows, having clean and safe access to parks for all New Yorkers is critical. Our parks function as the lungs of the city — they clean our air, they help to lower air temperatures, they absorb stormwater, and they have a critical role to play in addressing climate change,” the new commissioner said. “For many New Yorkers, they’re also where they first learned to ride a bike, or throw a ball, or have access to the Wonder of Nature and trees. They’re also places for exercise, and family reunions.”

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