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In a gradual but profound transition, New York's park system had become dependent on private partners. The private sector's involvement was pervasive by 2003, but came in very different forms. This case, a companion to Adrian Benepe's Challenge, highlights specific items to map the spectrum of engagement ranging from contracts where government is clearly in control, to philanthropy where government is mostly passive, to a range of complex collaboration in between. The five points of focus are: Outsourcing much of the maintenance of the Parks Department's fleet of vehicles; The evolution of the Central Park Conservancy from an informal group of volunteers to a sophisticated and well-funded non-profit with full responsibility for managing New York's flagship park; Bryant Park's transformation from a drug market to a glittering landmark, under the auspices of a private corporation subject to only limited Parks Department influence; The emergence of the Bronx River Alliance, comprising dozens of public and private organizations, as steward for the troubled river and the lands on its banks; The single-minded (and almost single-handed) campaign of the entertainer Bette Midler to realize her unique vision for a public park in a rough area of Harlem.

Learning Objective:
Through the discussion of the intricacies and necessity of public-private partnerships in redeveloping parks in New York City, the case provides a window for students into the world of competing definitions of civic interest and the role of leadership in shaping urban policies.

Other Details

Case Author:
Susan Rosegrant
Faculty Lead:
John D. Donahue
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States