Saturday, February 6, 2010

NY Times Buys Into Self-Financing of City Parks, Ignores Consequences

When Parks Must Rely on Private Money

The NY Times dropped the ball today on an article regarding the increased reliance of private funding for what are supposed to be public parks. The writer fails to explain the very premise of her story, i.e. why parks "Must" rely on private funding when the City Charter is clear on what the responsibilities of our elected officials are pertaining to the funding parks. The article provides little analyses on the subject to support this premise and does not properly explore the numerous consequences of such schemes.

This is the same author who in 2007 wrote about another public-private partnership looking to use private funds to pay for private recreation employees for a playground being proposed near the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan. The article left out important information and context. The article was based on a premise that providing trained recreational specialists was a new concept when in fact for more than a century virtually every playground in NYC had such workers before the city began the wholesale firing of them in the 70's.

Her article set off a flawed series of Times stories including two follow up pieces which also failed to include these basic facts. By omitting this information the Times fails to question and in fact seems to support the last few administrations' increased reliance on these so called public-private partnerships whereby the public is being required to pay extra for basic government services. Services that are traditionally and legally required to be payed for as specified under the City Charter. Facts and a concept the NY Times editors have somehow repeatedly failed to include in these parks pieces.

Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

OPEN SPACE A view of Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

A majestic staircase of granite rises some 30 feet above the Brooklyn edge of the East River, revealing a panorama that sweeps from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to Midtown Manhattan. A salt marsh lined in limestone offers a contemplative look at the river as ecosystem. Along paths winding up manufactured hills and ridges are hundreds of trees that outline velvety fields of green, according to the New York Times.

This is Brooklyn Bridge Park, perched atop a ribbon of piers, and already hailed for its design and scope. But the park is taking shape only in fits and starts, and even opening the small part that is complete has been delayed until spring as the city and state hash out questions of money and control.

Despite 20 years of planning, work has barely begun on the bulk of the project. The $350 million construction budget is still short $125 million, and no one is sure who will come up with the $16 million needed each year for operations and maintenance.

Like the other important, expensive New York City green spaces built in recent years — Hudson River Park and the High Line — this one is arriving piecemeal as it awaits fresh infusions of money. And like the others, this park faces an uncertain future as the recession and resistance to its source of financing — in this case, luxury apartments — threaten its ability to move forward.

Read More:

When Parks Must Rely on Private Money

New York Times - February 5, 2010 - By Diane Cardwell

1 comment:

  1. If the city had followed the community's original plan, this park would have been done years ago. Instead the park's been hijacked by people who stand to make a lot of money from it. The Times' Diane Cardwell never even questions the $16 million maintenance cost -- $245,000 an acre, compared to $36,000 an acre in Central Park. Let's just call it what it is: A real estate deal, plain and simple, with a "park" providing the fig leaf for a politically connected developer.