Last week’s news about the retirement of Tupper Thomas after 30 years of running Prospect Park was a sad day for anyone who cherishes our limited open space, according to an editorial in the Brooklyn Paper.
In her three decades of service, Thomas proved that single-minded focus, steely determination and well-forged alliances can turn around any situation.
But therein lies the tragedy.
So before the rest of the city, starting with the increasingly non-critical New York Times, starts spending the remainder of Thomas’s tenure penning paeans, we’ll provide a little balance.
Yes, when Thomas took over day to day oversight of the park in the 1980s, the place was a shambles, a victim, like so many things in those days, of municipal neglect. There was a Parks Department with a mandate to run the city’s open space, of course, but that agency failed.
Out of that failure came the Faustian bargain offered by the Tupper Thomases of the world: put our struggling public spaces under quasi-public control, set aside some of the normal rules, raise private money from rich people, and we’ll make sure wealthy neighborhoods have a suitable backyard.
Editorial: Tupper Thomas’s sad legacy