Despite articles written about the not-so-ideal work conditions at Bloomberg L.P., Mayor Bloomberg’s company, I gather they make it up to their employees once a year with a gala event every summer to show us city folks who is boss. After all, it’s not many city parks that get closed off to the public for private parties for weeks at a time (includes preparation) yet somehow Bloomberg L.P. is able to swing it!
Connections? Parks for Sale?
The dubious and overwhelming presence of private-public partnerships in our city parks, lauded by NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe and Mayor Bloomberg, registers as only more apparent when it comes to the issue of Bloomberg L.P.’s “Summer Party.”
Held this past weekend, the event consisted of: a ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, flying swings, roller skating rink, human foosball (I’m trying to picture that), salsa dancing, a classic car showroom, miniature golf, espresso bar, a Burger Shack (any relation to Shake Shack?), kid’s camp, and more!
Needless to say, it takes over two weeks to set up.
Perhaps if it was one day, that would be one thing – still questionable – however, closing off a large majority of a public park (the rest is under construction) for weeks at a time for a private corporation is a bit, um, outrageous.
Juan Gonzalez wrote in the Daily News (note: the article appears to no longer be on the Daily News web site) last year, that for over two weeks,
“East Harlem residents who crossed the footbridge into Randall’s Island hoping to enjoy the park were confronted during those days by an unusual police presence, metal barriers and signs that read: ‘Private Event – Do Not Enter.'”
“ Randalls Island Sports Foundation officials refused this week to answer questions about how much the company paid to use the park or what the foundation’s policy is for private parties on the island. And there in a nutshell is why such a fury has erupted in recent weeks against the way Randalls Island is slowly being transformed into a playland for our city’s privileged and well-connected.”
And then, of course, there was that deal (still on the table) that was made to “give 20 of Manhattan’s richest private schools exclusive use on weekday afternoons for the next 20 years to most of the more than 60 new ballfields that will soon be built or renovated on the island.” All under the private-partnership mantra that this will help pay for the renovation. (No questions ever asked about why our parks are not adequately funded.)
If you were looking for a clue as to why New Yorkers, Mayor Bloomberg, think New York is going in the wrong direction, I think you could start right there at the site of your company’s lavish party on Randall’s Island, New York City “public” parkland.