One of the perks of serving on the CRCA board is getting invited to the annual Central Park Conservancy breakfast at the Central Park Boathouse. Besides eating some very good French Toast, this fall I got to hear an excellent and may I say moving speech about the Park by Doug Blonsky, President of the Central Park Conservancy.
Doug recounted the history of the Park and the ups and downs of maintenance and usage. He explained how without proper maintenance, the park, a living organism, shrivels and decays. Photos from the last 100 years showed how quickly the downturn can happen.
I came away impressed by the passionate care that Doug and others at the Conservancy bring to the Park. Did you know the Conservancy has its own group of sculptors and artists who have restored much of the park?
Next time you’re pedaling across the 72nd Street transverse, stop at Bethesda Terrace and head down the stairs for a look at the magnificent Minton Tiles ceiling. There are 15,876 elaborately patterned encaustic tiles hanging above you, most of which were restored by hand by the Conservancy’s team of technicians. It was a labor of love for the Conservancy, which manages and maintains all 843-acres of this great Park.
Next time you race down the west drive, look at the Lake on your left. Doug spoke about the shoreline work happening there now. The Lake restoration project — which will take five years to complete — began two years ago with the installation of portable dams and the excavation and removal of excess sediments. The shoreline is taking root, with fresh vegetation along the edges.
Many of you will remember when the Park wasn’t the safe, accessible oasis we enjoy today. Doug spoke about the zone gardener system, where each gardener has a specific area of the Park he cares for. This system of accountability seems innovative in both getting results and giving people meaningful jobs.
We’re fortunate to have this great Park to race in. Olmstead and Vaux showed amazing foresight in designing a great public space for bike racing in a busy metropolis, 35 years before the bicycle as we know it was even invented. We’re also fortunate that the Central Park Conservancy is looking out, and advocating, for us riders. It can get crowded on the drive, but did you know that the Park has 25 million visitors a year? So be safe, be smart, and get out there and be part of your Park!
With the city budget cuts, the Conservancy is more dependent on contributions. Join the Conservancy by contributing through CRCA. You become a member of CPC and CPC gets to see that cyclists support the park.
CRCA members can contribute to Central Park online by logging into the member database. If they wish to contribute with a check, they can email publicrelations[at]crca.net.
For more information about Central Park activities and history, visit:
- Central Park Official Website of the Central Park Conservancy
- New York City Department of Parks & Recreation