Thursday, June 20, 2013

Liu rejects Central Park Conservancy contract as unfair to rest of City

From A Walk in the Park:

June 19, 2013

Honorable Michael R. Bloomberg
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

My office has returned the ten-year, $90 million Central Park Conservancy contract submitted by the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and is currently reviewing an additional $60 million capital contract with the Conservancy.

I write to ask you to reflect on the wide disparities that exist among parks in the five boroughs. For example, St. Nicholas Park, located just a few blocks north of Central Park in Harlem, recently received a score of 77 out of a possible 100 points from New Yorkers for Parks because of trip hazards, litter, and out-of-service drinking fountains.

The Parks Department can and should amend both Conservancy contracts so that they help provide more equity among parks. These modifications should also take into account the exceptionally strong financial condition of the Conservancy.

We recommend that the following changes be made:

· Eliminate or reduce the Conservancy’s revenue-sharing agreement. Currently 50 percent of the estimated approximately $12 million Central Park net concession and special event revenue is distributed to the Conservancy. In contrast, very few if any other City parks have such a beneficial arrangement.

· Reallocate capital funds toward higher-needs parks. If we are serious about equitably distributing scarce resources, we need to reallocate a portion of the City’s capital contributions for Central Park to parks with higher needs that are over-reliant on discretionary funds.

· Increase financial transparency. The Conservancy’s 2011-2012 tax filings show revenues of $47 million. Other public sources indicate that the Conservancy has a workforce of approximately 300 employees, ranging from seasonal grounds technicians paid $18,228 to the President and CEO, who received total compensation of $456,319. Like the Parks Department and every other City agency, the Conservancy should publish spending and payroll data on Checkbook NYC, the City’s financial transparency website. Mandatory federal tax filings do not provide adequate transparency.

· Encourage expanded support of area parks. The Conservancy should work with the Parks Department to identify struggling parks throughout the five boroughs that would benefit from the Conservancy’s operational and development expertise. Such a collaboration could help mitigate some of the widespread concerns that public-private partnerships favor only a handful of elite parks.

According to its most recent tax return, the Conservancy has more than $215 million in assets. This staggering number does not take into account the recently announced $100 million private donation.

The City should ensure that parks across the five boroughs—and not just Central Park—are being funded adequately and equitably. When the City is unable to provide funding for basic maintenance and much-needed capital projects, one must question whether it is appropriate to provide our wealthiest park with $150 million of new resources.

Let’s work together to maintain Central Park and provide equity among all of our parks.


John C. Liu


Jerry Rotondi said...

In his waning days, Comptroller Liu is desperate for any kind of mayoral platform to stand upon--as if he ever has a chance to sit in Gracie Mansion--besides (maybe) being a dinner guest.

What is needed is a scaffold to hang the shady SOB from. That's a platform I can heartily support.

His sudden concern for the city's other parks comes too late.

What a phony, this son of a convicted felon, is.
He's interested only in his own welfare.

Anonymous said...

Makes sense to me...

Jerry Rotondi said...

An afterthought:

The Central Park Conservancy recently received a whopping 100 million dollars from John Paulson.
He made his money when the housing market collapsed. The more people who lost their homes--the more money Paulson made.

For once, I regret,
I find that I must agree with John Liu on that point.

CPC doesn't need more money from NYC.
Let the city use its own money to take care of, for example, our own Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Anonymous said...

For a moment here - just for a moment - I'm gonna put aside any of LIu's shady past and look past ulterior motives and timing for this whole thing and say this is ON THE MONEY! Thanks for rejecting the bad contract for the right reason!

Anonymous said...

Not a fan of Liu, but he's 100% right in this case.

Anonymous said...

Talkin' about closing the barn door after the horses have left...but I can finally agree with Liu on an issue!

Anonymous said...

Liu is a pandering fool.

Anonymous said...

As a Councilman representing Flushing, Liu had supported the plan to give part of Flushing Meadows Park to the NY Jets for a new stadium, the plan to bring the 2012 Olympics to Flushing Meadows Park, and to permit Booth Memorial Hospital to temporarily use part of Kissena Corridor Park as a parking lot.

Anonymous said...

LIU......BEGONE, already!