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De Blasio Endorses Plan To Change Funding Formula For City Parks

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Public Advocate and candidate for mayor Bill de Blasio wants to change the funding formula for parks in the city, endorsing a plan that would require well-funded park conservancies to set aside one-fifth of their budgets for other parks in need. NY1's

Some outdoor areas, like Central Park, stay pristine and beautiful with the help of private donations.

Since its founding in 1980, the Central Park Conservancy has pumped more than $470 million of private money into the park. That includes the $100 million gift hedge fund manager John Paulson gave last fall.

The scope of support is something other New Yorkers can only dream about for their parks.

"We need to take a little bit of that money and get it out to parks that need it more," said Public Advocate and Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio.

De Blasio is the first mayoral candidate to endorse State Senator Daniel Squadron's plan to require park conservancies with budgets greater than $5 million to turn over 20 percent of their operating budgets to a special fund. The fund would be used to support other parks around the city.

"I think we have to share the wealth a little bit here," de Blasio said. "So for anyone who wants to donate to Central Park, they're still going to be helping Central Park, most of the money is still going to benefit Central Park, but some of that has to be moved to where the need is greatest, in neighborhood parks that right now, are really suffering."

A spokeswoman for the Central Park Conservancy declined to comment on the legislation.

City Comptroller John Liu, who is also running for mayor, has expressed support for the concept of sharing funds. In June, he rejected a contract from the Central Park Conservancy, arguing that money raised from the park's concessions and events should be used to support other parks around the city.

In many cases, the disparities between well-funded parks and regular ones can be quite stark. At Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, there are 20 full-time employees and 17 seasonal workers in charge of nearly 900 acres of space. At the High Line Park in Chelsea, which is seven acres, there are about 60 people on staff.

De Blasio said he is just trying to level the playing field.

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