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Conference House Park

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, May 29, 2002


The Legal Division engages in a wide variety of activities including contract negotiation and drafting, assisting with litigation, review of contract or vendor qualifications. They work on affirmative litigation matters including tree restitution cases, respond to document requests, assist the acquisition of parkland, and advise Parks on general legal matters. Parks Counsel Alessandro G. Olivieri works with three Assistant Counsels, as well as one paralegal and one law school student.

Legal is responsible for writing the contracts that protect the agency from liability related to special events, partnerships with not-for-profits, or concessions operating on parkland. They recently negotiated a contract with Derek Jeter’s attorneys for Turn 2, a six-week series of baseball clinics that will run on Saturdays from May 11 to June 22 with locations in every borough. Legal also recently worked on the contract for the concert kicking off the Tribeca Film Festival, featuring Sheryl Crow, Wyclef Jean, David Bowie, and the Counting Crows. Legal also promulgates the Rules & Regulations for Parks, which are officially part of the laws of the City of New York. These are updated to reflect changes in policy every two years or so. Last year, the rules regarding event fees were updated, and Legal is currently revising the policies regarding membership at recreation centers.

"We provide advice on the legal implications of any emergency situation that may arise," says Assistant Counsel Laura LaVelle. Memorable emergency situations have occurred in Central Park in recent years, ranging from the discovery of a python to the untimely demise of Donna Karan’s dog resulting from a run-in with an angry swan. When Parks becomes involved in a legal dispute, our attorneys do not actually take part in the courtroom proceedings. They work closely with the City’s Law Department regarding strategy and gathering essential information. A large portion of our attorneys’ time is taken up by requests for documents from other governmental agencies, private-public partnerships organizations, contractors wishing to do business with Parks, or from individual constituents exercising their rights under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIL). Legal can receive several requests per day from people considering a lawsuit against Parks collecting evidence or from business owners studying old concessions contracts. The Environmental Control Board (ECB), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) often needs to see Parks’ records. Legal is currently working with counsel from HPD on the deal to develop the houses in Conference House Park.

They may remain behind the scenes, but the work that the members of the Legal division do is obviously vital to the everyday operations of Parks.

Written by Jennifer Keeney



On Wednesday, May 15, Parks joined the Battery Conservancy and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York in Historic Battery Park to rededicate a tablet in honor of Jewish American Author and activist Emma Lazarus (1849-1887.) Lazarus is best known for her sonnet, "The New Colossus." In 1903, this moving poem was engraved on a plaque on the Statue of Liberty. With its signature line, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…," the sonnet continues to serve as an inspirational call.

The restoration of the Emma Lazarus Commemorative Tablet is part of the $6.6 million project of public and private funds that revitalized Battery Park’s Upper Promenade. The Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations placed the original tablet in the park in 1955. Under the cool water’s breeze, Parks dedicated the tablet’s new foundation, a base crafted out of Jerusalem limestone. Parks Construction Project Manager Parviz Mohassel supervised the project. John Cole, a conservator with Art and Antiquities cleaned and refurbished the plaque before it was placed on its new perch.

Assistant Commissioner Jack Linn presided over the festivities. Mrs. Revital Pinkas, Wife of the Counsel General of Israel in New York, Howard Teich of Jewish Heritage-NY2002, Dr. Michael Feldberg of the American Jewish Historical Society and Warrie Price and Pat Kirshner of the Battery Conservancy were on hand for the celebration. Special thanks to Jill Mainelli and Anna Carey of Citywide Services for making this wonderful event possible.


(Wednesday, June 7, 1989)


Prospect Playground in the Bronx was filled with scores of children hard at play Monday afternoon. The youngsters were so intent in their fancy Double-Dutch rope jumping and foot-loose basketball moves it seemed nothing could distract them—except maybe the Mayor of the New York City, who wanted a few words with them.

Dedicating the playground in the East Tremont section of the Bronx—and two other park sites nearby—Mayor Koch, who was joined by Commissioner Stern, asked the youngsters from I.S. 93 and Community School 44 to raise their right hands and pledge to say no to drugs and stay in school.


"My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you
—ask what you can do for your country."

John Fitzgerald Kennedy
(b. May 29, 1917–1963)

Directions to Conference House Park

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