Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tupper Thomas’s Sad legacy - Public Private Partnerships


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.

Read More

Editorial: Tupper Thomas’s sad legacy

The Brooklyn Paper - April 14, 2010


  1. Totally agree with this assessment. And even the prized Tupper Thomas failed the "poorer" neighborhoods of Brooklyn on the sides of Prospect Park that face Prospect Heights and, worse, Crown Heights. THere was a damning article in the Times about 4 years ago to chronicle the fact that this park was not as safe, or as clean, or have as nice features (like playgrounds) on the poor side of this park. So even with Prospect Park, and its private conservancy there were really two parks - one for the wealthy and one for the poor.

    Governors Island and Brooklyn Bridge Park will now be run by authorities - outside the oversight of our elected officials (save one, the Mayor who now exclusively controls these parks and their funding, outside the oversight of the council and outside the ability of communities to get what they want out of their parks because there is no check or balance). This is what Mayor Bloomberg has done to our public parks. WHY ARE WE NOT PUTTING FUNDS INTO BUILDING UP OUR PARKS DEPARTMENT????

  2. cause the parks dept squanders it, it is hard to advocate for them, easy to advocate for parks. just one example, Parks has staff architects, unionized with DC37, yet they spend millions and millions on outside architects on three white male owned firms that are friendly with the administration, a waste of money and questionable in others ways too. just one of many examples.