Commissioners’ posts, much like visits to the park, have a flexible but finite timespan. And the end of a mayor’s term looming in the not-too-distant future is as good a reason to leave a nice spot as a rumble of thunder in the distance.
Mr. Benepe has accepted a senior position at the Trust for Public Land. Maybe the expansion-loving commissioner of the last decade was tired of all the budget cuts? (The Parks Department is facing a proposed one of $33.4 million this year). But most likely, Mr. Benepe is pursuing greener grass after a decade in the post and some 30 years at the Parks Department.
Mr. Benepe started at the department in 1973 as a teenage seasonal helper in East River Park on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, picking up litter and mopping locker rooms, slowly rising through the ranks until taking the top post in 2002.
“When New York City leads, cities, states and nations around the world follow,” Mr. Bloomberg said, according to The Times. “Adrian Benepe has done extraordinary work as parks commissioner, leading transformative changes in every corner of New York City, and I couldn’t be prouder that he is going to lead the Trust for Public Land’s new initiative to replicate our work in cities across the country.”
Former parks commissioner Henry Stern also waxed poetic about his successor’s skills. “His intimate knowledge of the emerald empire and the men and women who manage it will be enormously helpful as he seeks to spread New York City’s example nationwide,” wrote Mr. Stern. “He has had great success in working with community groups and building alliances of citizens and business groups to help improve parks. ”
And at the very least, Mr. Benepe’s successor should prove adept at community communication and alliance building. The mayor has named Veronica M. White, who is currently the founding executive director of the city’s Center for Economic Opportunity, an anti-poverty non-profit, as Mr. Benepe’s successort. We’ll be watching eagerly to see how the city will mark Mr. Benepe’s time at the helm of the department. A bench seems a little less-than.