From the Brooklyn Paper:
He’s been Brooklyn’s park czar for almost 30 years, but outgoing Commissioner Julius Spiegel says he can’t identify trees, doesn’t know plants and has never really been all that interested in parks.
“I’m not a nature guy,” said Spiegel, who announced his retirement from the Parks Department this week and will be stepping down in September. “I think of myself as a manager. I have a good eye for talent.”
Spiegel was appointed Brooklyn Borough Commissioner — the first and only person to occupy the post — 29 years ago when he was 34-years-old.
But he won’t be spending his golden years relaxing in the parks he oversaw.
“I don’t know how much I’m going to use them,” Spiegel said. “I never did — I’d see too many things that pissed me off.”
Spiegel might have come to the Parks Department as a numbers cruncher, but today he says he absolutely “can’t stand doing that kind of stuff.”
“Now I spend most of my time lobbying politicians for money,” he says. “I go and beg for money. That’s my job.”
As he leaves his public life behind, the Bay Ridgite, who moved here from Montreal over four decades ago, still refuses to give his opinion on such important park initiatives like Borough President Markowitz’s plan to transform Asser Levy Seaside Park into a world-class outdoor concert hall — even though he hints he doens’t like the plan.
“I still have to have lunch in this town,” Spiegel said.