Making Parks Decent Again

How the private sector can save public parks


America is filled with parks that are filthy, dangerous, and badly maintained. The governments in charge plead: We can't help it. Our budgets have been slashed. We don't have enough money!

Bryant Park, in midtown Manhattan, was once such an unsavory place. But now it's nice. What changed? Dan Biederman essentially privatized the park.

With permission from frustrated officials who'd watch government repeatedly fail to clean up the park, Biederman raised private funds from "businesses around the park, real estate owners, concessions and events sponsorships. … (S)ince 1996, we have not asked the city government for a single dollar."

Sounds good to me. But not to Shirley Kressel, a Boston journalist.

I asked her what's wrong with getting the money from private businesses, as Dan does.

"Because it goes into private pockets," she said.

So what?

"Because it's very good (for Dan) to use the public land for running a private business, a rent-a-park, where all year 'round there's commercial revenue from renting it out to businesses. He keeps all that money. People don't realize that."

So what? I don't care if they think the money is going to Mars. The park is nice, and people don't have to pay taxes to support it.

The park is certainly more "commercial" now. The day I videotaped, there were booths selling food and holiday gifts. The public seemed fine with that.

Biederman is not finished with his efforts to save public parks. He next wants to apply his skills to the Boston Common. The Common is America's oldest public park, and like many others, it's largely a barren field. Biederman doesn't want to seek business funding, as he did with Bryant Park, because the area is not as commercial. Instead, he would combine the Bryant Park and Central Park models. I know something about Central Park because I'm on the board of the charity that helps manage it. When government managed Central Park, it was a crime zone. Now it's wonderful. Those of us who live near it donated most of the money that renovated and now maintains Central Park. It's not a business arrangement.

Kressel says she'll fight Biederman's plan for Boston.

"(W)e don't need … to teach our next generation of children that the only way they can get a public realm is as the charity ward of rich people and corporations," she said. "We can afford our public realm. We're entitled to it. We pay taxes, and that's the government's job."

The Central Park model "doesn't work for 98 percent of the country," she added.

I don't know what'll happen to the rest of the country, but it's working in Central Park. Why not try it in Boston? It's working for the public.

"It's not, because these people, the money bags, get to decide how the park is used and who goes there and who the desirables are and who are the undesirables. Undesirables are primarily homeless people. … Homeless people have to be somewhere. If we don't make a system that accommodates people who don't have a place to live, they have to be in the public realm."

Biederman has a ready answer: "We have the same number of homeless people in Bryant Park today as we had when it was viewed by everyone as horrible in the early 1980s. What we didn't have then—and we have now—is 4,000 other people. The ratio of non-homeless to homeless is 4,000 to 13 instead of 250 to 13. So any female walking into Bryant Park who might have in the past been concerned about her security says, 'This doesn't look like a homeless hangout to me.' The homeless people are welcomed into Bryant Park if they follow the rules. And those same 13 people are there almost every day. We know their names."

Once again, the creative minds of the private sector invent solutions that never occur to government bureaucrats. If government would just get out of the way, entrepreneurship and innovation, stimulated by the profit motive, will make our lives better.

John Stossel is host of Stossel on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of Give Me a Break and of Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at johnstossel.com.


NEXT: We'll Handle This Ourselves

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  1. “Because it’s very good (for Dan) to use the public land for running a private business…He keeps all that money.”…
    “So what?…The park is nice, and people don’t have to pay taxes to support it.”

    Demented left wing philosophy in action – her priority is worrying that someone is making some money; the enhanced usefulness and beauty of the park be damned. Classic.

    1. Private money: root of all evil.
      Public money: root of all unicorns.

      1. I read the latter as “root of all unions.” Then I realized it would have been less funny, but more true.

    2. That was the best moment of the segment. She absolutely rejected the notion that having a nice park is the point of a park. To her, not having someone make money off of it was way more important than the park being nice.

      She also lives in delusion-ville, where “the government can do it even better” than the private sector who took over from the government who was doing a terrible job. I wonder if she’ll go back and watch the segment and see that maybe she was a little off base. I doubt it….

      1. Wait where was this a viewable segment? Did I miss an embedded video or is it from Stossel’s show?

    3. Leftism: the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, is making a profit.

      1. +100 (This needs to be added to Urban Dictionary!)

    4. All public park land should be sold to private parties

      1. Or revert back to ownership by adjacent property owners.

    5. I think it’s a shame. I used to be able to buy drugs there.

      1. Crime Zone Central Park (and Dystopian New York City) was way more awesome.

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  3. Pretty cool. Having gorwn up in Boston, and now residing in NYC, I can definitelly appreciate the difference. Central Park is awesome and well kept. Bryant park is nice but pretty small (not even a full city block), then again it gets a lot of use especially with an ice skating rink, holiday shops and movies in the summer. Bryant Park Bar is also a pretty good happy-hours place in the summer.

    Are they seperating the Boston Common from the Public Gardens? Although they’re right accross the street from eachother, the Gardens is much nicer, with Swan Boats and the Make Way for Ducklings statue, which sometimes gets Stollen!

    1. But but… the profits. (sigh) you just don’t get it.

    2. Oh man I want one of those. For my collection of ridiculous stolen shit. Most of it is so-called “public” property, like the R2D2 mailbox and “do not pick up hitch hikers” sign.

  4. When government managed Central Park, it was a crime zone. Now it’s wonderful.

    What did they do with the Dirt People?

    1. Check the Soylent Green smoothie cart.

  5. *chanting and/or yelling*

    “No more profits in our parks”
    “No more profits in our parks”
    “No more profits in our parks”

  6. I don’t want fuckfaces selling me fried dough in Yellowstone, sorry Stossel. Just because the govt can’t do shit doesn’t mean parks need to become outdoor malls

    1. Indeed. How dare fuckfaces try to support their families by selling food.

      1. Uhm, there are thankfully no fried food stands in Yellowstone so nobody is making heart disease profitable at that particular location. Just cause you make believe this will create sustainable jobs doesn’t make it so.

    2. I feel your pain.

      Have a bacon hot dog? Three dollar!

      1. Racist. You impry we cant say three dorrah correctry.

        1. basta! now cost yu sik a haff!

    3. Because those are the only two options, right?

    4. And, of course, your preference is the one that matters most. It’s impossible to imagine a private enterprise managing Yellowstone without “fuckfaces” selling fried dough. Way to think things through there, Bob, you fuckface.

      1. I would do it. I would sell fried dough anywhere it is profitable. And I would price it below the granola energy bar crap. You want healthy? You have to pay.

        Actually, it already works like that. Bet somebody has already thought “there oughta be a law”.

        1. Waffles and fried dough…

          The nepotism shows on here worse than that IHOP thread from the other day.

      2. Oddly enough, most of the amenities in Yellowstone are operated by a private company (xanterra). Selling a range of food: junk to less junky. Like any good private enterprise, they target their market: overweight americans.

      3. I love reading billboards when I go on long hikes. I learn the best stuff cause companies tell me that it is good. Lower my taxes now, thanks, now I can go buy that nice stuff the companies told me about.

    5. Yellowstone =/= Central Park
      Wilderness Parks =/= Urban Parks
      National Park Service =/= NYC Government

      Did You Know?
      At peak summer levels, 3,500 employees work for Yellowstone National Park concessioners and about 800 work for the National Park Service.

      1. And you can bet the assholes employed by the National park Service sit around on their asses.

        1. Uh, no, Realist, not all of them. I realize that parks are pretty low on the standard Libertarian list of core government functions, but in my extensive experience (in VA, granted) the rangers do stuff. There are also lots of park volunteers – an ideal public-private partnership.

    6. I do want fuckfaces offering me food at Yellowstone, and am willing to pay them for said food.

      So that’s one vote against and one for.

      1. Good point. So vote. Support candidates who will open up the parks to commercialization and folks like me and Bob will vote otherwise.

        Good luck.

        1. Your democracy fetish is showing.

          1. Let’s vote to make any enterprise illegal until legislators, regulators and other bureaucrats expressly say it’s legal.

          2. That is the problem with democracy….idiots get to vote.
            When everybody votes, everybody loses!

            1. wait, wait, I got a great idea! let’s make a vote club where only “the really smart people” get to vote.

              1. Now that’s a great idea. What advantage is there to letting someone with an IQ of 70 vote?

            2. Idiocy is a red herring The problem with democracy is that it is intrinsically morally on par with both anarchy and totalitarianism. All are endorsements of “might makes right.”

              In anarachy might is determined by who has the best guns/aim. In totalitarianism might is determined by who climbs highest within the goverment. In democracy might is determined by a tyranny of the majority. In other words, those who are most base and common. But democracy SOUNDS like it is somehow inherently superior to those alternatives, which is the problem.

              1. Yeah, but empirically, Democracy on average, does at least a little better than the other two… 😛

              2. How about a representative republic?

                1. Now you’re just talking foolishness.

                2. Intrinsically morally equivalent to the others, but it takes advantage of hybrid vigor. Having “might” require a combination of clout within the state as well as a degree of support from the mob seems to have had some positive results.

                  Almost as inefficient as a pure democracy when it comes time to trample your liberties, but not quite as inefficient at dealing with external threats.

                  Without having a look at the constitution in question, or anything else that gives me an idea what constraints the government operates under, I’d probably choose it over the alternatives.

                  Of course, given the option to follow a despotic God-King whose authority reigns only within the confines of a strong libertarian leaning constitution, my choice is clear.

                  1. i’m with you fellers!

    7. Have you been to Yellowstone? They sell food there. I’ve had a doughnut in Yellowstone. Heck, I’ve had a hamburger in Yellowstone. I don’t think I got it from a fuckface unless it was you that sold it to me.

      1. Actually, it’s all served up by sleep-deprived (from partying in their off-hours) European teenagers.

    8. I’d love to have a fried dough booth in our local park.

    9. People are already selling frybread in Yellowstone.

      1. “frybread” …is that the non GMO version of fried dough?

    10. You’re like the guy who opposes private casinos yet supports the state lottery. Dude, at Yellowstone they’re already selling you everything, you think people just show up and spend $0 for a hotel, guided tours, etc? The private sector can do everything better than the government, that’s a fact.

  7. Private parks are wonderful. We should replace stupid public parks like Central Park and Yosemite with private parks like Six Flaggs and Dollywoods.

    1. Careful MNG, your class prejudice is showing.

      1. Yeah, because no poor people prefer parks to Disneyland. Maybe your class prejudice is peeking out from under your skirts?

        1. Yes because turning Yellowstone into Dollywood would be the commercially smart thing to do.

          If Yellowstone were put up for sale, don’t worry Dolly Parton wouldn’t be the one buying it. It would be bought by someone like Ted Turner or some other environmentalist asshole and basically shut off to the public (sans the really rich) in the name of preserving it. The danger of privatizing places like Yellowstone is just the opposite of what you think it is.

          1. I don’t think the parks would be more exclusive if they were bought by some wealthy “environmentalist asshole”. As it stands now, camping overnight in a public park involves a long waiting list and it’s not that cheap.

            1. It would get even more so if it were privatized. They didn’t make Dollywood out of the Riverea did they? The parks would become the exclusive playgrounds of the rich and even less accessible and more expensive than they are now.

              Now maybe that is a good thing. But, the worries that the really great parks would be turned into Dollywood are pretty absurd.

            2. I tend to agree here but you’re wrong on the camping thing. I live near Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and there are loads of campsites that are reasonably priced ($6/day for tent) and have plenty of availability except on July 4th. As far as the wilderness sites, I’ve never once had my overnight permit denied, and have gone on 4 9 day hikes in the wilderness areas of both parks.

              Now, I was denied a permit to climb Mt Whitney’s west ascent from the wilderness area of Sequioa. And all of the wilderness permits are free (once you pay to get into the park, but I bought a lifetime pass for $80).

              1. That’s a problem. You shouldn’t need a permit to access so-called “public” property.

                1. We dislike user fees now too? Urg.

                  1. If user fees are being charged, then the facility should be private. User fees don’t make government ownership moral.

        2. There is nothing wrong with poor people going to parks….as long as they can pay the admission fee and I don’t have to pay for it!

    2. You do realize that Central Park is open to the public but not run by the government, right?

  8. 1/280 MNG-posts?.

    1. You mean “Apples, oranges, and bananas don’t mate”?

  9. New yorkers:

    Whats with the obvious exception to park boundaries? How did the Met and etc get a primo spot INSIDE the park?

  10. The Central Park model “doesn’t work for 98 percent of the country,” she added.

    Except that it does. There are thousands of public parks in small towns and suburbs that are primarily maintained by volunteers from the neighborhood around them. The city might get called on for capital improvement, but most of the ongoing costs are covered by volunteers whose children and grandchildren use the park. You can usually tell which ones they are by looking. They’re the nice ones.

    1. Except that it does.

      I mean the 98 percent that counts.

    2. And it’s not just the playground and baby stroller crowds, either. Park neighbors have a vested interest in keeping the parks safe and attractive as it affects residential property value and personal safety.

      Also, park users like mountain bikers, canoeists, etc do lots of volunteer maintenance.

    3. She may actually be right: According to my analysis, the Central Park model only works for 97.8% of the country.

    4. Not in my bullshit yuppie town. The parks are indeed maintained by private parties- contracted by the municipality. I thought the damn thing was worthless when they built it and I still think it is.

  11. I doubt she objects to people volunteering to clean up the parks. It’s more likely she is concerned about commercialization of the parks.

    1. It’s not just cleanup, these people build trails and canoe landings. A hardcore statist would oppose this as “taking jobs away” from city employees. The truth is that the city would never build those facilities on their own.

      1. “A hardcore statist would oppose this as “taking jobs away” from city employees.”

        The ones in your head maybe…

        1. get out of head! Just kidding, MNG, you are at worst a softcore statist.

        2. “(W)e don’t need … to teach our next generation of children that the only way they can get a public realm is as the charity ward of rich people and corporations,” she said. “We can afford our public realm. We’re entitled to it. We pay taxes, and that’s the government’s job.”

          1. I imagine if there is video of this interview, she would have been stomping her feet as she said this, after which she held her breath until she turned blue.

        3. The ones in your head maybe…

          [from Daily Brickbats here @ Reason]
          Too Much School Spirit
          Posted on November 4, 2010, 6:00AM

          Budget cuts have forced schools in Petaluma, California, to cut support staff, so parents have volunteered to do things such as answer phones, make copies, and help monitor students before classes. So far, the union that represents support staff has blocked volunteers from coming into Petaluma Junior High School, saying those jobs must be performed by paid employees.

          1. If a union rep blocks access, why are they not being arrested for willful imprisonment or something. Walk around them and if they stop you, they are assaulting you. If they hold you, they are imprisoning you.

            These people don’t happen to be a part of the same union that represents the cops there, do they? I would be shocked if that were not the case here.

            1. Sloopster, I got nuthin’ for youse. IANAL, so don’t know the legal ramifications of all this. I suspect that ultimately the problem is a lack of political willpower on the part of the county/municipal politicians afraid of crossing the unions.

              My post above was by way of pwning MNG’s assertion that my claims of government employee resistance to citizen volunteerism was some sort of deranged fantasy.

              1. My post above was by way of pwning MNG’s assertion that my claims of government employee resistance to citizen volunteerism was some sort of deranged fantasy.

                That would explain the conspicuous absense of minge’s response.

                1. nuthin’ worse than fuckfaces working for nuthin’.

        4. From Hit & Run a while back:

          “In pursuit of an Eagle Scout badge, Kevin Anderson, 17, has toiled for more than 200 hours hours over several weeks to clear a walking path in an east Allentown park.Little did the do-gooder know that his altruistic act would put him in the cross hairs of the city’s largest municipal union.Nick Balzano, president of the local Service Employees International Union, told Allentown City Council Tuesday that the union is considering filing a grievance against the city for allowing Anderson to clear a 1,000-foot walking and biking path at Kimmets Lock Park.”We’ll be looking into the Cub Scout or Boy Scout who did the trails,” Balzano told the council.Balzano said Saturday he isn’t targeting Boy Scouts. But given the city’s decision in July to lay off 39 SEIU members, Balzano said “there’s to be no volunteers.” No one except union members may pick up a hoe or shovel, plant a flower or clear a walking path.”


          (Link broken)

            1. Here S.E.I.U. Comes To Save The Day!

    2. Probably….liberals are so fucking stupid!

  12. And another thing. The city park nearest my house hosts a “farmers” market every Saturday May-October. Yes, they’re encouraging naked capitalism. And it’s the self-styled “progressives” who pushed for this. Would love to see Shirley Kressel and her ilk try to simultaneously justify this while opposing “fuckfaces selling …fried dough.”

    1. “And another thing. The city park nearest my house hosts a “farmers” market every Saturday May-October.” But they are allowed to sell only organic non genetically altered produce.

      1. But they are allowed to sell only organic non genetically altered produce.

        Uh, no. Also, there is a taco truck (which normally would not be allowed inside the park), and lots of non-food vendors (mostly crafts).

        Do you have anything useful to contribute to the discussion here?

        1. It was a joke. But to answer your question, everything I contribute is useful dick breath!

          1. -30,00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

  13. In Pittsburgh (or rather Monroeville) there is a county run ski hill. I’ve often thought of what a missed opportunity it is. It’s a 15-20minute drive from the city and a great setup for a family to learn how to ski for little more than the cost of going to the movies. The problem is that it is so badly run. The lift is slow, the lodge is filthy, it’s often closed when it could be open, and barely anyone really knows about it. I wonder how much opposition I, or anyone else, would have if they tried to improve and run the damn correctly. This is, afterall, union country and the public good / private bad mentality can be found in spades.

  14. An old joke:

    “If you libertarians have your way, we’ll have people fornicating in public parks!”

    “Whoa whoa whoa, whatta ya mean PUBLIC parks?”

    1. all the women who used to be scared going through the park think that’s funny?

  15. I don’t want fuckfaces selling me fried dough in Yellowstone

    That’s nice.

  16. The absolute shittiest urban park I have ever seen is Rembrandt Square in Amsterdam. Absolutely no effort is made to even make the landscaping look nice, much less to clean the vomit and other waste off the statue o Rembrandt himself in the center of the square.

    1. See what happens when you legalize pot.

      1. Those plants are not very attractive. If only you could smoke rhododendrons, Amsterdam’s parks wouldn’t look so blah.

    2. Rembrandtplein is an urban commercial square with a tiny bit of green space in the middle. the reason there is vomit is because the square is surrounded by bars. It does say something about commercialization and its effect on green space, but I think think you might have missed the actual lesson.

  17. They didn’t “Privatize” the parks. Had they done that there would be luxury condos or office buildings going up now. There’s no way on earth that real estate in NY sits unused without the government putting up barriers to keep it that way.

  18. Support candidates who will open up the parks to commercialization and folks like me and Bob will vote otherwise.

    I hate (not really!) to tell you this, but you already lost. The question of “if” has been decided; it’s just a matter of “by whom?”.

    ps, Bob-

    It’s obvious you’ve never actually been to Yellowstone, and we appreciate it.
    Keep up the good work.

    1. Exactly.

      In both Bryant Park and Central Park, the **ELECTED** officials decided to shift control from the government to other entities, whether commercial or charity.

      And this applies to all other parks too…I havent been to a National Park that wasnt at least somewhat commercialized.

      1. damn! its those representative republicans agin!

  19. No parks should be supported by tax money….always pay per use!

  20. Who’s profiting from Central Park? Seems to me a bunch of rich Manhattanites just got together and decided they wanted their park to look nicer. It’s not a profit motive thing, it’s the same exact thing as public funding, only done via private charity. With all you antigovernment zealots running around, it’s little wonder public parks can’t get decent funding.

    Besides, if that land were truly subject to the free market, it wouldn’t be a park at all. That’s some valuable property right there.

    1. If I don’t have to pay for it alls good.

    2. Except that it IS profit motive – the park is maintained to support the property value of the land around the park. Bad park = lower property value. I’m sure it’s a great investment on their part too.

      1. Surely you don’t mean… externalities.

    3. Well it WAS a bunch of rich Manhattanites you got together and created the park in the first place so they are really just taking responsibility for their actions. BTW, Central Park does get decent funding, it comes from antigovernment zealots.

  21. Tony, I’m a huge fan of public parks, but not necessarily public funding or administration of those parks. Big difference.

    Where I live there are two public parks right next to each other. Park “A” is owned by the city but run by a private foundation. It’s well-kept, non-commercial, safe, and has a tip jar at the entrance — none of that coerced-donations-via-tickets bullshit. The park across the street is owned and run by the city — it’s a haven for prostitution and drug dealing; not that I have any problem with either, per se, but those businesses are not supporting the park. Realize you won’t see the difference here, but everyone else does.

    1. I’m all for philanthropy, and I’m sure any park maintained by it will probably be better than one maintained only by public funding. I’m just not sure what it has to do with the free market.

      1. I didn’t see anything in Tonio’s statements that said that park A was maintained by force. Park B is maintained by force and it sounds pretty crappy

  22. it’s the same exact thing as public funding, only done via private charity.


    1. By that I mean, it’s not a question of profit motive, it’s still collective action done for public good. Charity is great, but let’s not lose the concept of a public good, or a public space. Central Park would not be a public space without government setting it aside as such. Whether it’s maintained by private or public money, it still does not owe its existence or upkeep to market principles.

      1. My sister is a borderline environmental nut. She recently explained that she donated to one conservation organization rather than another because it spent a lower percentage of its income on sustaining itself. Most went to purchasing land on the free market, which it then turned around and sold with the stipulation that the buyer had to maintain it in the undeveloped state, as would subsequent buyers. Central Park itself might not have sprung into existence without government meddling, but clearly agents within the free market DO create comparative constructs.

        1. That would be The Nature Conservancy, and they are truly a conservancy organization, not an enviro-whiner lobby. They are a well-run, respected charitable organization, and are not anti-hunting.

      2. Where does the private money come from, Tony? Where does public money come from?

        Remove your head from your ass before you suffocate.

      3. Yes it is market principles, besides using covenants, conditions and resatrictions as a way of setting aside land for public use, one of the basic rights of landowners is to “dedicate” their property to the public. It’s their property, right, they have the right to do what they want with it and give it to whoever they want, even if that whoever is everybody. When this happens, the municipality isn’t accepting “ownership” of the land, they’re just accepting the responsibility of maintenance. The land is essentially deeded to everyone. Even if the municipality didn’t accept responsibility and funding for maintenance had to found privately, one could still in theory do this with any piece of land. You might need to pass some laws to make it more officially recognized (to get rid of the liability), but it’s still doable.

  23. “(W)e don’t need … to teach our next generation of children that the only way they can get a public realm is as the charity ward of rich people and corporations,” she said. “

    Let’s all remember that quote next time the dems want to raise taxes on the rich.

    1. I hate it when rich people do good things voluntarily. It’s much more satisfying when I can use government force to TAKE what I want from them! That way the good things come from ME, not them, and I get a warm feeling of self-satisfaction from wielding power to do good. Huzzah!

    2. Aside from that, her comment doesn’t even make much sense. The whole reason the park is what it is today is precisely because it ISN’T “charity”; Biederman is making money. A more perfect example of left-wing la-la thinking is harder to imagine: up is down, black is white, and private companies engaging in commerce is “charity” whereas the government giving people a free park is…well, I dunno, but “not charity”, apparently.

      1. A hallowed old example of left-wing la-la thinking, too:
        “Not one of these, our citizens, should ever be abandoned to the indignity of charity. Charity is indignity when you have to have it. But we don’t want these people to have anything to do with charity and we don’t want them to have any idea of hopeless despair.” – Harry Truman, speaking about the introduction of Medicare. Odd that living on other people’s money is only undignified if they give it to you voluntarily.

      2. Biederman doesn’t make any money. All the profits go into the upkeep of the park.

  24. I like how this bitch is against it mostly on principle. It’s absolutely horrifying to her that individuals could voluntarily gather the funding and setup a non-profit entity to own and maintain a park instead of the government using force to take our money in the form of taxes and then underfund the park and run it poorly because there is little incentive for it to do otherwise.

    What kind of education does one have to go through to have such a perverted world-view?

  25. I’m sorry, but the Central Park model doesn’t really work beyond big showcase parks like Central Park. As a resident of one of NYC’s outer boroughs (aka the forgotten land), the success of the Central Park Conservancy has led to a minuscule budget for the rest of the NYC Parks Department. The important people of NYC donate money to the Central Park Conservancy, Central Park looks beautiful, so they assume that’s what all parks in NYC look like. While it would be nice in theory to privatize public parks, in reality, there’s not enough money in a lot of communities in NYC to support the renovation that is necessary in many places.

    1. Hm; si, como no. I’m also a resident of an outer borough, and I have to say that Prospect Park isn’t too bad. Fort Tryon’s also nice, as is Riverside, and Morningside’s not too bad (certainly not like it used to be). I think part of the problem is that the Parks Department is simply in charge of too much: sometimes it seems like every damn traffic island is under Parks Department control.

      1. Ok sure, bigger parks are decent (Flushing Meadows) usually, but smaller, local parks usually are not maintained.

        1. Maybe the citizens who live around and use the park should get off their lazy asses and go improve them.

    2. Shouldn’t the CPC have freed up all the money the city used to spend on Central Park? Were your parks fantastic BEFORE the CPC? I doubt it.

  26. What was amazing to me, as I traveled in South America earlier this year, was that Bolivia had the best-maintained public areas/parks. Both Sucre and La Paz have beautifully manicured public parks. Disclaimer: The preceding was not in praise of Evo Morales, just something I noticed.

    1. No doubt the Bolivians will catch up with the Venezuelans soon. Then they can live in their own Chavezistic paradise.

  27. It’s important to mention the Project for Public Spaces, which contributed to the revitalization of Bryant Park in the early 80’s. Their point of view is that parks need to have things for people to do, which includes some commerce. http://www.pps.org

    In this fight they have come down against the current management of Bryant Park, because they have rented out a large part of the park to invitation-only fashion shows for two months of the year, counter to the park’s public purpose.

  28. I’m ok with public/private partnerships if they make sense, although, I would have preffered a bit more info.

    Stossel has a tendency to do his article like most TV, short with not much detail.

    Am I ok with with some people making money in a park, yes. Do I want all parks privatized No.

    I don’t have a problem at all with spending some tax dollars to make sure that there are relativly untouched pieces of land for future generations to go visit.

    If that makes me less of a libertarian, well, lucky I don’t care about that, lol

    1. I agree. In fact, I think this story is counter-productive to the libertarian cause. Libertarians are already generally viewed as a bunch of radicals who want to make every road a toll road, every park and school private, every drug legal, and have every government market and evironmental regulation eliminated. Can’t people like Stossel and other public libertarians take positions that seem more moderate? This piece is just going to play as “they want to sell off our public parks!!”

      1. So Steve, you want to compromise our principles in order to make ourselves more appealing to a larger public that doesn’t even know what libertarian means? If every road was a toll road there would be less traffic and less potholes. If every drug was legal the government could raise billions while allowing the Darwinistic principle of survival of the fittest to thrive. The same with public parks, if the private sector can do a better job we can save the government money. If Stossel, Judge Napolitano and Glenn Beck took moderate positions not only would they be boring, they’d be doing a disservice to the libertarian philosophy of freedom.

        1. I think you are missing one point here. WoD say is about indvidual liberty.

          A public park system can be about making sure that land stays undevopled and avaialable for future generations.

          I’m not against private managment per-say, but I am againt making all the parks private.

          As to Steve’s point, I do agree that’s it’s a good idea to focus on the most important things. Of course we all priortize those different.

          For me, ending WoD is VERY important (seeing as how I did 9 months in jail because of it).

          having a better run park system is important to me, but privatizing parks (especially the large state and national parks) is usually not something I’m in favor of.

          There are some things that I think should be owned by the public.

          Blasphemy I know.

        2. Anyone who thinks that toll Glenn Beck is a Libertarian is not a libertarian.

  29. Private control of public parks tends to improve the park for surrounding property owners at the expense of the park’s heaviest users.

    Consider Woodruff Park in Atlanta. A public/private entity (Central Atlanta Progress) funded by property owners controls the park. The heaviest users of the park are low income people who make middle and upper income people uncomfortable. So, Central Atlanta Progress has made a passive aggressive attempt at controlling them through the use of surveillance, security patrols, and pervasive Muzak. In some places seating areas have been removed and replaced with rails to prevent the sort of loitering parks ought to encourage.

    So I ask, are the park’s users more free? Does private control of public parks increase or decrease a person’s freedom to use a park?

    1. The heaviest users of the park are low income homeless people who make middle and upper income people uncomfortable contribute nothing to the park and destroy property values by their presence.

      Sorry to be harsh, but that’s the way it is.

      1. No, that isn’t the way it is. At least not in Woodruff Park. These people aren’t homeless – they’re just idle. And they’d rather be idle in a public place with other people than at home. They contribute life to the park, gathering to talk and play chess, but their presence and behavior is uncomfortable to the middle and upper class people who pass through.

        1. I woudn’t think most middleclass people have a problem with chess playing.

    2. What do they prefer to do that surveillance prevents them from doing?

      1. maybe Schmoo meant chest playing?

  30. Nice picture of not-Bryant Park, which, amazingly enough, is not as large as Central Park (which receives a lot of private cash as well, I would acknowledge).

    1. I don’t see the practical purpose for Central Park remaining so large. It makes it difficult to maintain.

      1. It needs to be big to accommodate a variety of uses in Manhattan, one of the most heavily used and populated places in the country, if not the world.

  31. squarooticus|12.2.10 @ 9:49AM|#

    Leftism: the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, is making a profit.

    TANSTAAFLusa|12.2.10 @ 11:23AM|#

    +100 (This needs to be added to Urban Dictionary!)


  32. So I ask, are the park’s users more free?

    Private parks, or public-private parks, represent an expansion of civil society, and a reduction of government control. Ergo, they add to the sum total of freedom.

    Will there be individual winners and losers when this happens? Sure, but in principle freedom increases whenever government shrinks.

  33. Once you have a public private partnership like the one managing Central Park in NYC, it gets pretty tough to say that “The Government” can’t run the park. The government of NYC has come up with a solution that works quite nicely.

    Of the people, for the people, by the people.

    It is when people see their government as being separate from their community that things breakdown. Central Park is owned by the community, maintained by the community, and governed by the community. No real privatization going on in any sense of the word. The conservancy could not sell off the park, could not use it for non-park purposes (if you will).

    Seems very analogous to NPR or PBS to me.

  34. Is this a new episode? I can never tell.

  35. Ha, this is a repeat. I remember Stossel wrestling stuffed animals away from toddlers.

  36. The budget is going to find that Veronique is a cruel mistress.

  37. Hollywood resisted Ray’s anti-democrat movie? I don’t think so.

  38. Why are those two California Raisins boxing?

  39. You’re not doing “all right” wearing a bright red, button down collar shirt.

  40. Look at his ears. I think this guy is Obama in disguise.

  41. Paterson sees the light? I don’t think so. That quote had to be taken out of context.

  42. Mike is very altruistic with his tax dollar. If he hadn’t been born into money I don’t think he’s be doing “all right” in business today with that attitude.

  43. Karl Malden there is going to school him on unions.

  44. A civilized society does not not pay its public workers to retire at the rickety old age at 58.

  45. Ha, Dan just accused Stossel of using generalities after using a slew of generalities to back up his own point.

  46. HE ADMITTED MISMANAGEMENT at the corporate leadership level. NOT UNIONS.

  47. Ha, European accent talking about “working class”. Doesn’t sound good.

  48. 90% top earner and 45% lower end tax rates sound very patriotic.

  49. Cut the budget for the deficit commission.

  50. If those cuts aren’t going to solve the problem, why did you even bother listing them?

  51. I have lots of good time at park.

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