New Project Aims to Revitalize New York City National Parks

Date:   March 19, 2003
Contact:   Kate Himot, NPCA, 202-454-3311
Eileen Woodford, NPCA, 617-338-0126; cell: 617-529-2848

New Project Aims to Revitalize New York City National Parks

Washington, D.C. - Help for New York City's eight national parks is on the way with today's launch of the National Parks Conservation Association's (NPCA) New York National Parks Program, designed to restore the parks to the level of government support, public recognition, and national respect that Americans associate with sites that preserve the nation's history and its wild places.
"The eight national parks of New York City represent a rich mosaic of natural, cultural, and recreational resources and commemorate some of the nation's most significant historical events," says Tom Kiernan, NPCA president. "You cannot find a combination of parks like this in any other city in America. But they need help badly to escape the inroads of age and persistent underfunding."
A primary issue is building congressional support for the funding needed to preserve and care for the parks adequately and to pay for exhibits and educational programs that tell the stories behind the parks.
The new program is a multi-faceted approach to addressing the problems affecting national parks in New York City. One of the key projects is a rigorous business analysis to identify the financial needs of the eight parks. This analysis, which includes individual studies of each park, will be conducted in collaboration with the National Park Service by the NPCA Business Plan Initiative, which has already helped to clarify the budget needs and goals for more than 50 national parks across the United States.
Another component of the program is an effort to increase public awareness of New York City national parks. The first thrust in this project will be the launch in April of a series of television public service announcements that will raise awareness of the city's national parks. Among the notables featured in the television spots are comedian Jerry Seinfeld, television journalist Walter Cronkite, and New York Knicks player Allan Houston.
NPCA also will serve as a catalyst in Washington, D.C., to win support for rehabilitation work at the Statue of Liberty as well as Ellis Island and to advocate for increased funding for restoration of Jamaica Bay within Gateway National Recreation Area.
In addition, the organization is building an NPCA Business Council for New York City National Parks that will engender support among business leaders. "NPCA is eager to attract to the New York Business Council for National Parks the sort of engaged individuals who want to attract more tourism, protect historic park artifacts, and work with the city and with regional elected officials to increase federal funding for national parks," says Tom Secunda, an NPCA trustee and a founding partner of Bloomberg L.P. "Throughout its history, the National Park System has been shaped and nurtured by individuals committed to park protection. The first director of the National Park Service was a businessman."
The new program kicks off with a dinner at Federal Hall tonight, with entertainment provided by singer Joan Osborne. Participants include members of the business council, who will see a preview of the television spots.
"National parks in New York City draw visitors from all over the globe," says Eileen Woodford, director of NPCA's Northeast Region. "These parks honor the people and events that have made America great. They also honor New York City by drawing attention to the city's unique role in the building of our nation. Through the New York National Parks Program, NPCA will build a superstructure that will protect these parks for generations to come."
The eight park units are Federal Hall, on the site where George Washington became our first president; Castle Clinton, through which 8 million immigrants entered America in the late 1800s; Theodore Roosevelt's birthplace; Hamilton Grange, the home of Revolutionary War leader and first secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton; St. Paul's Church in Mt. Vernon, which served as a hospital during the American Revolution; Grant's tomb;Gateway recreation area, which protects 26,000 acres of beaches, marshes, and other wildlife habitat; and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, which the National Park Service treats as a single site.


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