NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe To Talk Privatization of City Parks Tuesday, August 9th at Museum of the City of New York

New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe will be a featured speaker next Tuesday, August 9th at 6:30 p.m. at a discussion “Whose Park is It? Financing and Administering New York’s New Parks” at the Museum of the City of New York.

Instead of spending city money wisely on maintenance and staff at parks, Commissioner Benepe, with the support of Mayor Bloomberg, continues to overspend, overly redesign our public spaces, and then naively act as if the city is left with no choice but to call in private entities to manage them. Clearly, this is not a model that’s working and not the model we need to ensure our parks remain public in every sense of the word.

This event is an opportunity for the Parks Commissioner to promote his platform of privatization of our public parks. Commissioner Benepe loves to help developers.

At Washington Square, the neighboring community and Community Board 2 have stated outright: “No Private Conservancy.”

EVENT: Whose Park Is It? Financing and Administering New York’s New Parks, Tuesday, August 9, 6:30 PM

In the past 20 years New York City has added over 20,000 acres of parkland to its acclaimed public park system. Recent additions, such as the Hudson River Park, the Highline, and Brooklyn Bridge Park represent a new generation of park design as well as financing and administration.

In an era of budget cuts and declining revenues, how is the city paying for its new parks? How does new park administration differ from the past? What role does private funding play in the administration of the city’s parks? What makes a successful park in today’s New York?

Parks commissioner Adrian Benepe; Alexander Garvin, professor of urban planning, Yale University; and Catherine Nagel, Executive Director of the City Parks Alliance, discuss the past, present, and future of New York’s public parks.

Co-sponsors: Central Park Conservancy, the City Parks Foundation, Civitas, Friends of the Hudson River Park, Friends of the Upper East Side, Hudson River Park and the Prospect Park Alliance.

Tickets and more information at the Museum of the City of New York web site.

RESERVATIONS REQUIRED: $12 Non-Members, $8 Seniors and Students, $6 Museum Members, A two dollar surcharge applies for unreserved, walk-in participants.

Getting to Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street:
By subway: #2, 3 or 6 trains get you there — #6 Lexington Avenue train to 103rd Street; #2/3 train to Central Park North/110th Street.
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Additional background:

See WSP Blog piece on privatization and the High Line.
Also, A Walk in the Park Blog on the Brooklyn Bridge Park housing “deal” reported in the news yesterday.

Jinx at Manhattan Animal Care & Control Shelter Needs Home ASAP

Jinx Needs Home

From Animal Care & Control Volunteer:  Jinx – super sweet 2yr old cat DECLAWED front paws. Hard to take a pic of him he loves to be petted!  Neutered male, black Bombay mix.

About Jinx: The shelter staff think I am about 2 years old. I weigh 10 pounds. May be FeLV positive. Found in NY 10461. I have been at the shelter since Jun 14, 2011.

JINX – ID#A900436   http://www.petharbor.com/pet.asp?uaid=NWYK.A900436

What a sweetie! Not on Death Row YET but will be soon. See more here on Facebook.

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The ACC is the city’s shelter system. I’ve written about it here before. Tho’ it is a quasi non-profit, its small Board of Directors is comprised mainly of heads of NYC governmental agencies. Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe is on the Board of Directors; it is overseen by the NYC Department of Health.

This is the latest: A list of demands for ACC shelter reform from activists (it would be about time):

This declaration is addressed to Julie Bank, Executive Director of the NY ACC, Mayor Bloomberg, the entire City Council and the Department of Health:

We Will No Longer Tolerate the Slaughter of Innocent Defenseless Dogs & Cats in the City of New York. We Declare That Tax Dollars Must Be Allocated For:

1) Free Spay Neuter for Dogs & Cats for Citizens of NYC

2) Superior Veterinary Care Given to All Animals at the NYACC

3) **No** Animal is Killed Unless Terminally Ill

4) Behavior and Training Specialists Rehab For All Dogs & Cats

5) Solid and Continuous Volunteer & Adoption Program Staff

6) Immediate Queens and Bronx Shelters in High Visibility Locations

7) A Better Communications Center for Adoptions So Animals are Not KILLED Because of Mistakes in Phone Calls and Messages.

8 ) Demand From The NYC Housing Authority the Rescission of the Weight Limit in Public Housing

NY Daily News reports “Lead in [artificial] turf shuts East Harlem field”

You know that artificial turf that Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe has advocated for and previously wouldn’t consider had any problems, to the point where it’s been installed in over 90 ballfields and parks across New York City? This despite the fact that in New Jersey they closed two ball fields when high levels of lead were found. Well, now those same high levels have been found in a field in East Harlem and it’s been closed, according to today’s New York Daily News.

Frank Lombardi reports:

An East soccer field has been closed after elevated lead levels were detected in the synthetic turf installed five years ago, park officials said Monday.

The exact cause of the lead contamination at Thomas Jefferson Park, at First Ave. and E. 113th St., is not known, according to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.

But Geoffrey Croft, a park advocate and frequent critic, blamed the lead contamination on the city’s use of a type of synthetic turf that includes a cushion of pulverized tires, known as crumb-rubber infill.

There’s this reassuring comment from the Assistant Commissioner Nancy Clark, “health effects from previous exposures are unlikely.” Right. Lead exposure can cause brain damage and other illnesses.

However, even after being alerted to the two fields in New Jersey being closed back in April, Parks Commissioner Benepe was quoted in Metro: “There’s no doubt in my mind it’s safe.”

Tell me why we are entrusting our city’s natural parks, public spaces, environment and wildlife to this public official’s control. There is no other way to say it. While I believe that the Parks Commissioner is ultimately under direction from Mayor Bloomberg and has too minimal a budget to work with, there are just too many questionable statements and actions to feel comfortable with his leadership of the parks in our city.  (What’s happened at Washington Square Parkthe manipulations, the lack of transparency … – alone would cause most anyone to want a new person in charge.) Which leads me to wonder…

Why should we trust the Parks Department (and Commissioner Benepe) when they say there is some new version of artificial turf to be used in Washington Square Park, and other locations across New York City, that’s “not infill rubber,” that’s better?

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe at Morningside Park Today, Sunday, 2 p.m.

From Joel Kupferman, lawyer extraordinaire:

IRONY – Adrian Benepe, NYC Parks Commissioner, speaking at a ceremony commemorating the halting of Columbia University’s gym construction 40 years ago. (WSPB note: The University’s plans were to take over a large swatch of Morningside Park, and were stopped by protest and action, in court, and in front of the bulldozers.)

PROTEST —- Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, who masterminded the destruction of Washington Square Park, by moving and shrinking the fountain plaza, is speaking at a ceremony commemorating the halting of Columbia University’s gym construction 40 years ago. Sponsored by Friends of Morningside Park. This is the last part of Columbia 1968 and the World: A 40th Anniversary Event.

Some background: “This spring marks the 40th anniversary of the 1968 student protests at Columbia University. A group of alumni participants, working with faculty and students, has developed a program for a three-day conference to reexamine those events from a wide range of viewpoints and in the context of what was happening in 1968 in the country and the world.

NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe will speaking at 2:00 PM today at Morningside Park @ West 113th Street.

The Parks Department continues to privatize parks and restrict the use of parks to gather and to protest. (See previous entry.)

Central Park was set off limits by the Parks Department for a huge anti-war rally on the great lawn during the Republican National Convention. See IndyMedia coverage.

The Parks Department continues to install ARTIFICIAL TURF in scores of city parks, including Riverside Park. Despite the fact that this synthetic turf reaches over 160 degrees in the summer (disparately impacting children who cannot leave the city in the summer), contains many toxic elements and compounds, and damages the environment; and that there are NY state and city legislative bills calling for a moratorium on the use of such grass, Commissioner Benepe still claims it is safe to use. Read more at New York Environmental Law & Justice Project.

JUST A LITTLE FOOD FOR THOUGHT while you picnic.

Joel R Kupferman
New York Environmental Law & Justice Project