The Daily Plant : Friday, March 5, 2004
COMMISSIONER BENEPE HIGHLIGHTS PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS IN GREENPRINT ADDRESS
On Wednesday morning, March 3, over 350 Parks & Recreation employees and friends gathered at Pace University’s Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts to hear Commissioner Adrian Benepe’s annual “Greenprint” address. In his presentation, Commissioner Benepe focused on Parks & Recreation’s many public and private partnerships, outlining his top three priorities for partnership growth: “Putting Children First,” “Developing the Waterfront,” and “Greening New York City.” For those who could not attend, what follows is a two-part summary of the Greenprint. Part One, featured in today’s Plant, describes how partnerships can be used to propel Parks & Recreation’s Children First initiative. Part Two of the summary, which will appear on Monday, describes how partnerships can facilitate Parks & Recreation’s priorities of Developing the Waterfront and Greening New York City.
Commissioner Benepe began his remarks by affirming the importance of partnerships, referencing early examples such as the Central Park Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and GreenThumb. He called our modern partnerships “strategic mainstays,” listing the positive relationships Parks & Recreation maintains with non-profit agencies, corporations, individuals, City Council Members, and city, state, and federal agencies. Commissioner Benepe also spoke about the way partnerships make the agency more accountable by requiring Parks & Recreation to take the needs of volunteers and private partners into account.
In his dicussion of partnerships, the commissioner addressed two common criticisms: that private partnerships “corporatize” parks and that partnerships contribute to a two-tier system of park maintenance. Commissioner Benepe pointed out that Parks & Recreation frequently rejects inappropriate events and sponsorship opportunities. He also stressed that any private money spent in flagship parks allows Parks & Recreation to allocate more funding to neighborhood parks. In addition, Commissioner Benepe discussed the strategies Parks & Recreation has employed to bring new funding to small parks, such as appointing new park administrators, creating catalyst sites, and bundling neighborhood parks into attractive, understandable packages for sponsors. Finally, Commissioner Benepe emphasized that any positive change to one park was a positive change for all parks, raising expectations for quality-of-life throughout the city.
Underscoring Parks & Recreation’s continued commitment to children, Commissioner Benepe identified Putting Children First as the agency’s most important initiative. Last year, Parks & Recreation served over 500,000 children with its recreational and special events programming. Commissioner Benepe talked about the positive benefits children receive from Parks & Recreation programs, and the ways that partnerships with the Departments of Education and Health and of Mental Hygiene have allowed Parks & Recreation to effectively contribute to the physical, emotional, and intellectual development of New York City’s children. Some of Parks & Recreation’s most successful inter-agency partnerships include “Shape Up New York,” Derek Jeter’s Turn2 baseball clinics, and Parks AfterSchool.
Commissioner Benepe also discussed the importance of youth athletics, highlighting new sports facitilities, such as Randall’s Island’s Ichan Stadium and Kissena Park’s velodrome. “I firmly believe that at least one of our kids will represent this country in the Olympics, but our primary goal is to make our parks worlds of play for all children. Perhaps one day, kids won't ask each other which video game they are playing this afternoon, but ask instead what park they are going to.”
Written by Hannah Gersen
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
“The only good government is city government.”
Christopher Osgood, 2004
(Born in 1976, Bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence)
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