Central Park Conservancy to send staff to parks citywide
The Central Park Conservancy, the private nonprofit that manages the Manhattan landmark, in June will begin deploying a crew to guide workers at less-endowed parks in the outer boroughs -- sharing its resources amid Mayor Bill de Blasio's call for greater equity across city parks.
The conservancy's Institute for Urban Parks will dedicate a "five-borough crew" of at least four staff members to regularly visit five parks to help with training and turf management, conservancy president Doug Blonsky told Newsday. "We actually are taking equipment out there and working side by side with them, in all areas of park management," he said.
The Central Park Conservancy, a fundraising powerhouse, attracts wealthy donors and this year will contribute 75 percent of Central Park's $58 million expense budget. But under a bill sponsored by State Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn), it would be among the groups that must divert 20 percent of their budgets to needier parks. Bill opponents have said it would deter donors.
At a news conference last month to name Mitchell Silver his parks commissioner de Blasio said, "We have to recognize the inequalities in our parks." The mayor called Squadron's bill "creative" but stopped short of endorsing it.
De Blasio spokeswoman Marti Adams in a statement Saturday said the administration supports the conservancy's new program but did not elaborate its position on the bill.
"The Mayor and Commissioner Silver's goal is a more equitable approach to our parks -- and the conservancy's initiative to bring these educational resources to parks across the five boroughs is a positive one," Adams said.
Blonsky said the conservancy had sent some staff to a limited number of parks in past years. But he said this initiative would involve dedicating staff to parks citywide and is more efficient than redistributing funding.
"Everybody wants to improve New York City parks, so we're all on the same page," he said. "I think it's more important for us to just train people and work with them alongside of them to help maintain and restore our parks and not just kind of give people money."
The conservancy said it would work with the city this summer to determine which parks will host its crew.
City Council parks committee chair Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) said, "The big parks have expertise in everything from turf management to fundraising. If they can share that, they'll be a benefit to neighborhoods all over the city."
Squadron Monday could not be reached for comment.