Big news for Central Park today:
Billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson is donating $100 million to the Central Park Conservancy.
The announcement was made earlier today at a news conference held at Bethesda Fountain.
Just about every media outlet has coverage — here are a few options for you to choose from: NYT, WSJ, Forbes, Reuters, NBC-NY, CBS-NY, Bloomberg, The Post, Crain’s, The Observer (and here’s the official press release from CPC).
When asked at the news conference Tuesday what prompted the gift, Mr. Paulson said: “Walking through the park in different seasons, it kept coming back that in my mind Central Park is the most deserving of all of New York’s cultural institutions. And I wanted the amount to make a difference. The park is very large, and its endowment is relatively small.”
The park’s current endowment stands at $144 million. Half of Mr. Paulson’s gift will go to the endowment, while the other half will be used for capital improvements. Mr. Paulson mentioned two that he considered important: Restoring the park’s North Woods, and sprucing up the Merchants’ Gate entrance at the park’s southwest corner, the most heavily used entrance.
Paulson spoke of his family’s connection to the park, recalling that his grandparents even had their first dates there.
Paulson said he also remembered seeing the park fall into disrepair during the 1970s, before the founding of the Central Park Conservancy in 1980, a non-profit organization that took over management of the park.
“The metamorphosis of Central Park has been extraordinary,” Paulson said. “Forty million people visit the park each year, up 200 percent since the Conservancy took over.”
Approximately 80 percent of Central Park’s operating budget today comes from private funding.
Mr. Paulson joined the conservancy’s board in June.
Bloomberg reports that Mr. Paulson will give the park $60 million in the first year, and $10 million in the next four years.
In addition to the North Woods and Merchants’ Gate (which is located at Columbus Circle), portions of the gift will be used to improve park-wide infrastructure, 21 playgrounds, 130 acres of woodlands, five visitor centers, and youth and family programming and recreation facilities.
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