Adrian Benepe donned swim trunks for the opening of McCarren Park pool (after the ribbon cutting, he jumped in and swam a lap). High Line co-founder Robert Hammond remembers him in bike shorts during the elevated park’s inaugural weekend. But on the steamy evening when the New York Restoration Project held its annual fund-raising dinner at Gracie Mansion, Mr. Benepe was dressed conventionally in a suit, albeit with a backpack slung somewhat incongruously over one shoulder.
The backpack, like the granola bars that he keeps in his office, suggested a recent or upcoming tromp through some greensward more rugged than Carl Schurz, making it an agreeable accessory for an event aimed at rehabilitating neglected parks. But the former parks commissioner—for that was how people introduced him, despite the fact that he has been working at the Trust for Public Land for the past year—checked the bag at the entrance.
Leaving behind the “best job in the world” at the New York City parks department, where he spent the better part of 40 years and the near entirety of his professional career, has been more difficult. Mr. Benepe no longer presides over the 29,000-acre emerald empire whose transformation from overgrown, shabby and often-frightening urban wilderness into one of the city’s major tourist attractions has paralleled not only New York’s shift from a down-and-out city to an almost terrifyingly prosperous one, but also his own rise through the department’s ranks.
Parks: what’s there not to dislike?
A group of parks activists in Queens have been pushing “QueensWay,” a linear park that would be built atop the old Rockaway Beach Branch of the Long Island Rail Road in the central and southern parts of the borough. As New York Times opinion writer Eleanor Randolph put it in her pro-QueensWay piece, it “has no celebrity patrons, no Diane von Furstenberg, no Barry Diller, no big-name donors to give enough seed money to turn the park into a fashion statement.”
But with a High Line-like makeover, she wrote, “QueensWay would offer both a walkway and a bike path. There could be small shops or stands featuring cheese guava buns, dim sum dumplings, pani puri or yam fufu.”
Parks and Rec
The buzzing food vendors that pepper Central Park aren’t the only ones battling to shill their overpriced wares to tourists. Bicycle rental companies are warring over the right to wheel and deal by one of the Park entrances, The Wall Street Journal reports.
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.
Adrian Benepe, lover of carousels and longtime parks commissioner is bowing out, reports The New York Times.
At last week’s opening of Jane’s Carousel, perhaps the only person more excited than the legion of children and Ms. Walentas herself was Adrian Benepe, the city’s Parks Department Commissioner. “I guess it comes with the territory of being a conservator of carousels,” Mr. Benepe told The Observer, finishing off the last of his bag of popcorn. By Mr. Benepe’s count, there are now at least 10, perhaps 12, carousels in the city, depending on how you count them. With the exception of one at Coney Island, all are found in the city’s parks.
Island of the Ferries
The Bloomberg Administration has waged an all-out war on smoking, doing the unthinkable seven year ago by banning butts from bars across the five boroughs. With its success (or failure, for those with a pack-a-day habit), cities across the country have followed suit.
Now, the mayor and the City Council want to extinguish smoking Read More
As the Real Estate Desk noted yesterday, the mayor will not back efforts to save the Cedar Grove Beach Community–the last of more than a dozen such summer getaways that once lined Staten Island’s South Shore–despite a photo op that suggested otherwise. Now, Dave Young, a resident of one of Cedar Grove’s Read More
An average Joe discovers a $200 million trove of Ansel Adams negatives at a garage sale, struggling art vendors protest new regulations, and flip-flop wearing bargain hunters clamor for Lawrence Salander’s belongings. This week in art news: don’t forget the little guy.
1. YouTube Play Generates Buzz and Frustration
The Read More
Last week, in the basement of the American Institute for Architects, in a room that looks like a bunker designed by Le Corbusier, an audience waited to hear NYC Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe speak. Benepe is one of this year’s recipients of the Center for Architecture Award, and the lecture was organized as Read More
“Two ferocious teams have gathered here today, on this field, to compete in the greatest sport in history,” announced Alex Benepe, son of Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, at a muddy McCarren Park in Greenpoint last month as an MTV camera circled around him. After a dramatic pause, the young Mr. Benepe—looking like an Read More