RECREATION & LEISURE
“Executive Director of High Line Group to Step Down.” By Lisa W. Foderaro. New York Times. February 11, 2013. Robert Hammond, who led the effort to save an abandoned elevated railway in the heart of Chelsea and turn it into a new kind of park, announced on Monday night that he would step down as executive director of Friends of the High Line by the end of the year. In an interview before the announcement at a meeting of the Friends’ board, Mr. Hammond said that he had no plans yet for his next act. But with the third and final section of the park now under construction, the timing seemed right, he said. Mr. Hammond co-founded the nonprofit group with Joshua David, now the Friends’ chief development officer, in 1999. Before his involvement with the High Line, Mr. Hammond, 43, worked as an entrepreneur on small start-up companies. “I always had three goals for the High Line: that it’s a well-loved park, that it inspires others to start their own projects and that it not be dependent on Josh and me,” he said. “It’s a good time to transition. I’m an entrepreneur at heart. My gut has been telling me that it’s time to start something new.” The High Line model is now being emulated from St. Louis to Chicago to Rotterdam, the Netherlands. And Friends of the High Line is in the midst of a highly successful capital campaign, with $81 million raised toward its goal of $125 million. That total will cover the expense of the final section, called High Line at the West Side Rail Yards and estimated to cost $90 million, while also establishing an endowment to help pay for future maintenance.
“New York Parks in Less Affluent Areas Lack Big Gifts.” By Lisa W. Foderaro. New York Times. February 17, 2013. Last year, Central Park received what is believed to be the largest gift ever given to an American park, $100 million, from the hedge fund manager John A. Paulson. When Frederick J. Kress, who sits on the board of the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Conservancy, heard about it, he had only one thought: What about us? Flushing Meadows-Corona, which has been the setting for two World’s Fairs, is considerably larger than Central Park, at 1,225 acres, compared with 843. Last year, its conservancy attracted $5,000 in donations. The park’s bicycle and walking paths are cracked and pitted, Mr. Kress said, and its natural areas are overgrown with invasive species. “Central Park is doing pretty well,” said Mr. Kress, who is also president of the Queens Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces, noting that though Mr. Paulson’s home on Fifth Avenue overlooks Central Park, he grew up in Queens. “I’m not saying he owes anyone anything, but how about you give Central Park $98 million and Flushing Meadows-Corona $2 million? That two million would have gone so much further in an underappreciated park.” Mr. Paulson’s gift was only one of a number of large donations to the city’s parks: $20 million was given to the High Line in late 2011, an additional $10 million to Central Park this month, and $40 million was pledged to build a field house in Brooklyn Bridge Park, though the plan was abandoned. The gifts have put New York’s green spaces on a par with hospitals, universities and cultural institutions as objects of philanthropy. The largess has delighted city officials, who say it will ensure that New York’s signature parks have the resources to remain pristine while accommodating millions of visitors a year. But the donations have also highlighted the disparity between parks in Manhattan’s high-rent districts and those, like Flushing Meadows-Corona or Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, that are in less affluent communities. In those parks, conservancies and friends groups must struggle to raise any money at all.