Central Park Conservancy Shares Wealth

A wonderful way to help parks without the funding the Conservancy enjoys, as reported by the New York Times.

An excerpt.

The lawns at Fort Greene Park were getting the horticultural equivalent of a spa treatment.

With help from a crew from the Central Park Conservancy, six parks workers in Brooklyn were aerating the soil, spreading two kinds of grass seed — fast-sprouting and shade-loving — and then massaging them in with a rake.

“One of the big things with growing grass is you need to have seed-to-soil contact,” said Lindsay Okarmus, the conservancy’s manager of field operations. “That’s why we always have someone going behind the spreader with a rake. That’s grass-growing 101.”

For years, the conservancy, the nonprofit group that supports and operates Central Park, has sent crews to several parks, mostly in Harlem, to help with maintenance. But this month, it started a new program with a team of gardeners, called the Five Borough Crew, to share its expertise with 10 parks across the city. The idea is to impart the strategies and techniques that have served Central Park so well.

The program was conceived long before Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Community Parks Initiative, a plan announced this month to funnel $130 million into fixing up 35 neglected parks in low-income areas. Yet, in some ways, the Five Borough Crew is a response to some of the criticism of the city’s wealthiest park conservancies in the past year.

In 2012, John A. Paulson, a hedge fund manager, gave the Central Park Conservancy $100 million in a single gift.

Critics of the conservancy model say that private groups, like the Central Park Conservancy, perpetuate disparities in the parks system, lavishing money on a privileged group of parks. Mr. de Blasio, in announcing his initiative, said he expected the conservancies “to play a major role.”

Those with knowledge of the discussions between City Hall and the conservancies say that the mayor had tried unsuccessfully to secure cash contributions for needy parks. State Senator Daniel L. Squadron has been a proponent of having conservancies share their wealth. He sponsored a bill requiring conservancies with operating budgets of $5 million or more to dedicate 20 percent to neighborhood parks. Conservancy leaders have said that such a diversion of money would threaten future donations and might not pass legal muster.

Douglas Blonsky, president of the conservancy, said that training crews in other parks would have a more lasting effect than simply giving them money and walking away.

Retrieved October 21, 2014 from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/20/nyregion/with-training-program-central-park-conservancy-spreads-its-wealth.html?_r=0

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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