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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 28, 2006
No. 32
www.nyc.gov/parks

Parks Department And Central Park Conservancy To Renew Historic Partnership For Another 8 Years

The Central Park Conservancy and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation announced today the eight-year renewal of the Central Park management agreement through June 30, 2013. The Conservancy is a private, not-for-profit organization, which, since its inception, has raised more than $325 million through private donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations, and transformed Central Park from its deteriorated state in the late 1970s to its present condition. Today Central Park serves as a model for urban parks worldwide.

The new contract will maintain the City’s baseline allocation for the maintenance of the Park, but it will lift the cap on the amount of funding the Central Park Conservancy receives based on concession revenues generated in the Park. Under the previous contract, the Conservancy received an amount equal to 50% of concession revenues beyond the first $6 million generated in the Park, not to exceed $2 million. As more of the Park is restored and the cost of caring for it continues to grow, removing this cap will ensure that the Park will continue to benefit from increasing revenues that are directly related to its successful management. The contract was signed this afternoon by Commissioner Benepe and Central Park Conservancy President Blonsky. It will be submitted to the Office of the Comptroller for registration. Coincidentally, it was on this very day in 1858, that landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s "Greensward Plan" was chosen as the design for the future Central Park.

"The historic agreement between the City and the Conservancy was first signed in 1998. Since then, the Conservancy’s share of the costs of running Central Park has increased dramatically, as the park has been restored and better managed." said Adrian Benepe, Parks & Recreation Commissioner. "This new agreement ensures that the City will continue to share the responsibility, while providing an incentive for the Conservancy to continue its hard work."

"Through this successful partnership between the Department of Parks & Recreation and the Central Park Conservancy, we will continue to ensure the beauty of the Park not only for the next eight years but for many generations to come," said Doug Blonsky, Central Park Conservancy President. "Over the last 25 years we have transformed most of the Park’s landscapes, funded major capital improvements, created new educational programs and set new standards in Park care."

Created in 1980, the Central Park Conservancy has developed and implemented a major management and restoration plan for the Park. The first eight-year management contract signed by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern with the City in 1998 was a significant event that recognized the Conservancy’s contribution to the remarkable turn-around of New York’s world-famous park. The pioneering public/private partnership became a model for other organizations including the Prospect Park Alliance, the Riverside Park Fund and City Parks Foundation.

The Conservancy also plays a significant role in the communities that surround it. One of the Conservancy’s early restoration projects was the area around the northern end of the Park. The Conservancy built the Dana Discovery Center, which is located along the shore of the Harlem Meer in 1993. The Center offers free educational, recreational and cultural programs including the Harlem Meer Performance Festival, a series of outdoor concerts by local musicians throughout the summer. The Conservancy recently launched an initiative with the Historic Harlem Parks Coalition, through which it will train horticultural staff in four historic parks in Harlem and provide the additional support of a Conservancy-based crew.

"The dedication the Central Park Conservancy has had towards revitalizing the northern end of the Park has had such a positive effect on Central Park North," says Betti Jean Miller, Founder and President of the Harlem Gateway Committee. "Today we have a strong partnership with them and look forward to many more years."

As one of the top tourist destinations in New York City, Central Park, and the Conservancy, as its caretaker, are key contributors to New York’s booming tourism industry. In recent years, the number of visits to Central Park has surpassed twenty-five million annually. Because of its beauty the Park is a major destination for film crews and has been the set of over 200 major motion pictures. Local businesses benefit from this draw both economically but also as an attractive incentive for new employees and clients. In 2005 Central Park was host to "The Gates," an art installation that drew over 4 million visitors, both local residents and tourists from the U.S. and abroad, and provided $254 million in economic impact, a significant economic gain for the City.

Through private funding, the Conservancy also offers education programs that use the Park to teach everything from math, design, and conservation to media, mulching and reading, all with the focus of stewardship. Programs are available to K-12th graders from the five boroughs, as well as adult students and youth groups.

The restoration of Central Park has led to an overall better quality of life for New York, its residents, business owners and visitors. For more information on the Conservancy, visit www.centralparknyc.org.

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