Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Private Park Gets Public Dollars In Queens

BIG GREEN: Queens' private Sunnyside Gardens Park has gotten tens of thousands of public dollars.
BIG GREEN: Queens' private Sunnyside Gardens Park has gotten tens of thousands of public dollars. (Photo: Rich press)


A private, members-only park in Queens has been getting a lot of public assistance lately.

Sunnyside Gardens Park, a 3-acre oasis created in 1926, has steadily received more taxpayer-funded grants under the watch of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and local Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, records show, according to the New York Post.

Friends of Sunnyside Gardens Park, the all-volunteer nonprofit that funds the park, is set to receive $47,600 worth of council member items in fiscal year 2012.

That's on top of $25,000 it got this year and $20,000 in 2010.

"It's an incredible resource and important place where a lot of people go and a lot children play," Van Bramer said, adding that he secured $2.4 million for public parks in his district.

Van Bramer has known Quinn for decades and worked for her in 1999, during her first council campaign. Quinn approves all member items.

"The council is proud to support programs like these, which countless New York families are able to take part of and enjoy throughout the city," said Quinn's spokesman, Jamie McShane, whose wife has held volunteer positions with the park.

Sunnyside Gardens Park members pay $335 a year, plus a one-time $150 initiation fee for access to the groomed grounds and ball fields.

The only other private park in the city is Gramercy Park in Manhattan, which receives no public money.

Sunnyside apparently benefits from having a politically astute fund-raiser, Cieran Staunton.

Staunton, a tavern owner who runs the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, has courted political leaders for decades and was involved in the Irish peace process of the 1990s.

His organization awarded Quinn its 2010 Annie Moore Award for her work on behalf of Irish immigrants.

"We never had a conversation with the speaker about funding, never," Staunton said. "We talk about immigration, and she has been brilliant about the issue."

Read More:

Private park rakes in pork
New York Post- August 1, 2011 - By Chuck Bennett

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