A Public/Private Partnership
In 2013, the City of New York awarded the Central Park Conservancy a new management agreement to ensure the continued maintenance of Central Park. Originally signed in 1988 and renewed in 2006, the 2013 contract affirms the City's confidence in its more than thirty-three year partnership with the Conservancy.
Under the current ten-year agreement, the Conservancy provides for the Park's day-to-day care, as well as certain maintenance work outside Central Park. Specified in the contract are: landscape and lawn maintenance, tree care, horticultural work, graffiti removal, cleaning playgrounds and comfort stations, repairing benches, clearing walkways, cleaning drains and sewers, and maintaining and repairing monuments and certain park structures.
The Conservancy receives an annual fee for the services it provides. The amount of this fee is determined using a formula that requires the Conservancy to raise and spend a specified minimum amount of private funds in the Park on an annual basis. Since 1980, the Conservancy has invested nearly $700 million in Central Park operations, capital improvements, and programs for visitors and volunteers.
The City of New York's Role in Central Park
The City of New York retains control and policy responsibility for Central Park. Capital improvements in the Park continue to undergo public review at each stage of development, with advice and consent from the Commissioner of Parks & Recreation. In addition, the City of New York/ Parks & Recreation manages and collects fees from all concessions in Central Park, and is responsible for scheduling and permitting events in the Park, but carries out these responsibilities in consultation with the Conservancy.
The Conservancy's Qualifications
The Central Park Conservancy is uniquely qualified to manage Central Park. Since 1980, the Conservancy has managed the Park with its partner, the City of New York, and brought the Park back from its deteriorated state in the 1960s and 1970s to its present condition by restoring and maintaining major landscapes and historic structures. The Conservancy is a model for public-private partnerships for parks throughout the country, and has developed an accomplished staff of park management professionals.
The Conservancy also has an impressive track record in raising private funds to improve and preserve Central Park. Since its founding in 1980, the Conservancy has invested nearly $700 million in private dollars, which, combined with the City's investment, has turned Central Park into a living symbol of New York City's revitalization.
The Conservancy's Governance
The City of New York retains control and policy responsibility for Central Park. The Parks Commissioner and officials of the City of New York/Parks & Recreation Department are involved in all Park planning, and must approve all of the Conservancy's capital improvements in the Park. The Conservancy, however, as a private not-for-profit organization, has a separate 52-member Board of Trustees. The Board consists of 43 general trustees representing the business and philanthropic communities, four ex-officio trustees (the Parks Commissioner, the Manhattan Borough President, the Central Park Administrator, and the President of the Women’s Committee), and five Trustees appointed by the Mayor of the City of New York. Additionally, there are currently 13 Life Trustees. See the Governance Overview page for more information.
The Conservancy's Community Outreach and Public Review Process
Central Park will always be a public park, and the Conservancy will continue to involve the public in the planning of improvements to the Park. For any project, the Conservancy obtains approval from the Parks Commissioner, engages in extensive community outreach to neighboring Community Boards, and submits its plans to the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Design Commission for review and approval.
Advisory boards comprised of community residents work with the Conservancy on a range of projects and issues. Current advisory groups include the Woodlands Advisory Board and the Central Park Recreation Roundtable. New and expanded advisory groups are created as needed to address plans for new projects and programs.
The Charles A. Dana Discovery Center opened to the public in 1993 and offers a wide variety of the Conservancy's free education and community programs, seasonal exhibits and holiday celebrations.