Yesterday, the Central Park Conservancy presented its plans to the Public Design Commission for a renovation of Grand Army Plaza at the park's southeast corner. The meeting went something like this:
Central Park: Even though the plaza is totally falling apart, we're only going to spend $2 million this because that's all we can afford.
Commission: Uh, didn't a billionaire just give you guys $100 million?
Central Park: Erm. Yeah, well...
Commission: Then this "we're so poor" schtick is some bullshit.
The real conversation was actually much tonier?James S. Polshek, a member of the commission called $2 million a "piddling amount of money" and said, "If it's another five or six million, that's not an adequate excuse"?but you get the idea. According to the Times, the conservancy says they can only afford to restore the 1916 plaza's pavement and trees, but the Design Commission told them to go back to the drawing board and come up with a plan for a complete overhaul. They want all the historic details?lights, seating, benches, balustrades, and more?to be returned to their original grandeur.
The Commission voted to approved the proposal "on a preliminary basis contingent on seeing a comprehensive plan," but the Conservancy says they need at least $3 to $4 million just to rebuilding the balustrade. Polshek thinks the city's millionaires and billionaires would have no problem dumping money into the project. He called Stephen A. Schwarzman and David H. Koch "two chaps" who would be happy to contribute, and he suggested an interesting naming-rights scheme: "You could name the columns. You could have a Trump column and a Silverstein column. It's obscene, but they'll be gone and the columns will be here." They'd probably sell like hotcakes, but then there's always the risk of donors being unhappy that their names aren't front and center.
· Shaping a Plaza's Next Century [NYT]
· All Central Park coverage [Curbed]
Photo by Vivienne Gucwa/Curbed Flickr pool