Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe gets a literary send-off from Susan Sheehan, Thomas Beller at the Strand
"600 million dollars has been put into the park to make it safe, to make it the most beautiful park in the world," Benepe said. "It’s now a park that you can walk through at midnight and feel perfectly safe. If you had said that thirty years ago they would have said ‘What drugs are you on? Or what drugs do you want to buy?’ Now, of course, it’s glorious."
The Parks Department's budget continues to shrink, along with the agency's ability to keep New York City parks in states of good repair. Which, naturally, can lead to discontent. That discontent boiled over in dramatic form this morning during a City Council hearing on the Parks Department budget.
“He was like, ‘Do you know Harry Lorayne?’” Spencer said. “I was like, ‘Yeah.’ He goes, ‘Oh, I read his book all the time on how to improve your memory.' I said, ‘Does it work?’ And he says, ‘Well, I think it does.’”
He said Bloomberg asked about a good book on magic for the layperson. Spencer recommended Jim Steinmeyer’s history of magicians, “Hiding the Elephant.”
Is the revenue-generating park a good thing? Commissioner Benepe says it 'depends on who's in charge'
“The risk ... is if you become dependent on that revenue, then you start to exploit the parks as much as you can for that revenue, because that’s your basement … I think the risk is that if a lot of our budget is dependent on how much revenue we bring in, that will start to turn the parks into a cash cow. We have a little bit of that now. We have some parks where revenue stays in the parks. As a long-term model it’s hard to say."
One of the hot topics at the sixth annual “Fit City” conference was stairs.
If this weren’t clear from the several images of stairs on material handed out at the Center for Architecture yesterday, there was this, from David Burney, the commissioner of the NYC Department of Design and Construction:
“I think bringing back the staircase is probably one of the biggest design opportunities since the invention of the elevator, because the elevator effectively killed the staircase,” he said. “It became this horrible dingy place, in the back of the building. So we’d like to bring that back. It becomes a programmed space, it becomes a social space."