The Central Park Conservancy’s operations crews care for 250 acres of lawns, 20,000 trees, seven water bodies, and 80 acres of woodlands. They install hundreds of thousands of plantings of bulbs, shrubs, flowers, and trees annually. They maintain 9,000 benches, 26 ball fields, 21 playgrounds, 55 fountains and monuments, and 36 bridges and arches. They also collect more than five million pounds of trash a year, all while providing visitor services for New York City residents, as well as people from across the country and around the world.
The Central Park Conservancy has set new standards of excellence in urban park management, transforming Central Park into a model for urban parks worldwide. In order to care for 843 acres of landscape, the Conservancy developed its signature Zone Management System in 1995. The system divides the Park into 49 distinct, geographically-based “Zones,” assigning one or more staff members to every Zone. They become experts in the care of their landscapes. Zones are grouped into larger Sections, each with a small operations team comprised of a Section Supervisor, Coordinator, Foreperson, Zone Gardeners, Groundskeepers, and Grounds Technicians. Not only does this system ensure that every inch of the Park receives attention, it has significantly improved the quality of care that the Conservancy is able to provide.
Zone Management is guided by five organizational principles: safety, accountability, consistency, expertise, and visitor experience and public stewardship. The daily presence of the same staff member in the same area of the Park fosters staff expertise and enhanced public communication. By making individual staff members responsible for the safety, cleanliness, and horticultural care of defined areas, Zone Management fosters accountability, consistency, and pride of work among staff. Zone Management enhances the Park experience for visitors and, with Zone staff members assigned to defined areas, provides a direct and localized way to communicate with the public.
All parks need consistent maintenance and care to ensure that they remain vibrant community assets. In Central Park, the Zone Management System has been crucial to achieving that goal.