According to a recent report on spending by park conservancies received by the City Council, the well-heeled Central Park Conservancy spent only $175,773 in fiscal year 2014.
That is "nonsensical," according to Councilman Mark Levine, chairman of the Parks Committee, which is why he is seeking to pass a bill that would require conservancies to report their budgets and expenses in greater detail than required under a 2008 law.
Other major park conservancies,
like that for the High Line in Manhattan, are completely missing from the report.
"In order to truly tackle the parks equity problem in New York City, we have to understand how big the gap is," Mr. Levine told Crain's after a hearing on the bill Thursday. "We don't currently because we don't know exactly how much money is coming in from private sources from the conservancies, and we don't know how much the city is spending on an individual park basis out of public money."
The Central Park Conservancy actually spent $45.8 million in 2014 maintaining the 843-acre park, as well as providing pro bono assistance to other parks, a spokeswoman said. "Councilman Levine is making an excellent point," she added. "Our funds are completely transparent, and we support this legislation." The de Blasio administration backs the bill, too.
The issue of park equity gained steam after the Central Park Conservancy received a historic gift of $100 million gift from hedge-fund manager John A. Paulson in 2012, while some outer-borough parks were barely scraping by. Last October, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $130 million "community parks" initiative to overhaul 35 downtrodden parks.
Mr. Levine said the idea of requiring wealthy parks to help fund scrappier parks has "lost momentum," with advocates and officials now focused on the idea of pro bono sharing of resources and labor.