What’s Wrong with this Hudson River Picture?

The Friends of Hudson River Park sports deep-pocketed donors such as The Durst Organization and The Related Companies. It is usually the one that gives money and moral support to the Hudson River Park Trust, the quasi-governmental entity that is building and operating the four-mile long esplanade along the West Side. But, it turns out that once a year, the trust pays the friends group money for a table at the friends group's annual fundraiser.    

This year, the expenditure garnered some discussion at the trust's May 24 board meeting, according to participants and observers.

“I thought it was inappropriate for the trust to spend $10,000 on a table when there is not enough money to finish the construction of the Segment 3 section in Tribeca,” Julie Nadel, a board member, recalled. “There is specific language in the trust act that says basically that the purpose of the trust is to build and maintain a Hudson River Park, not to spend $10,000 to buy a table at a dinner for a group, no matter what it does.”

The $10,000 is the going cost of a 10-seat table at this year’s gala, to take place June 14 in the offices of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in the Starrett-Lehigh Building. This week, however, the friends agreed to give the trust the table at cost, which works out to $1,750, according to Matthew Washington, deputy director of the friends group. In previous years, however, Mr. Washington said that the issue had not come up and that the trust paid full price.

“It was fair of them to ask for it at cost,” said Mr. Washington. “For us, it is important to have their presence at an event like that.”

Christopher Martin, a spokesman for the trust, said that while the board did not take a vote, members did express support for taking the table. “They felt it was important for us to attend,” he said. "They," that is, except for Ms. Nadel.