From the NY Times:
The Central Park Conservancy manages $220 million in assets, and has four officials who make more money than the city parks commissioner, Veronica M. White. At a High Line fund-raiser, a host held aloft a million-dollar check and asked for a match. Another $1 million check was written on the spot.
At the other end of this spectrum, the cracked path around the Shore Park-Verrazano Narrows offers an exercise in horizontal mountain biking. At Flushing Meadows-Corona Park children play in dry wading pools and lake paths are unnavigable without machetes.
Prospect Park occupies a middle ground. It has overseen a stunningly beautiful reconstruction of its lake side. It also rents out its Audubon Center on weekends to the wedding-bar mitzvah-birthday crowd.
Our lame duck mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, has started to turn off his charitable money shower. His foundation informed the Prospect Park Alliance that it intended to end its quarter-million dollar annual contribution. (Ms. Lloyd declined to discuss this.)
Those who defend privatization are candid. Ask about inequity and they talk of commodities; the emerald brilliance of Central Park draws tourists. The High Line is a brooch in the luxury transformation of Chelsea.
As for Flushing Meadows? When told that partisans hoped to transform a homely asphalt-ringed fountain into a grass-edged lake, John Alschuler Jr., co-chairman of the Friends of the High Line, offered an exasperated sigh. In his day job, he lobbies to place a U.F.O.-size professional soccer stadium in the midst of that Queens park.
Cities, he said, no longer pay for parks properly. Such exuberant hopes will not be realized in my life, he said, or that of my child. Find a corporate sponsor, he suggested.
So condescension passes as realism.
Holly Leicht of New Yorkers for Parks is a vigorous parks advocate, and would demand transparency and accountability from conservancies. But she would not upset the conservancy lords until the Parks Department is properly financed and revamped.
This feels backward. Former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton transformed a hidebound Police Department in months; why demand less of the Parks Department?