In what’s being called the largest parks donation in history, billionaire John Paulson yesterday announced a $100 million gift to New York’s Central Park Conservancy.
“This past weekend in Central Park I saw babies in carriages, children playing, couples holding hands, dogs running, musicians playing, people jogging, cycling and people from all over the world talking, laughing and exercising,” Paulson said while announcing his gift yesterday at the park’s Bethesda Fountain. “I thought to myself, ‘Central Park is a paradise unlike anywhere else in the world.’”
Officials say Paulson’s money will improve and benefit nearly every aspect of the 845-acre park; which includes 250 acres of lawns, 24,000 trees, 150 acres of lakes and streams and 130 acres of woodlands.
According to Dena Libner, a spokeswoman for the conservancy, Plauson will give the park $60 million in the first year, and $10 million annually for the following four years. Immediate improvements include the restoration of the North Woods, upgrades to the landscaping surrounding Merchants’ Gate near Columbus Circle, refurbishments of all 21 playgrounds, and upgrades to the Tennis House and (YES!) the public restrooms.
Thanks to Paulson’s gift, the Central Park Conservancy’s permanent endowment stands to grow to nearly $200M. “I wanted the amount to make a difference,” he added.
Officials are hopeful that the billionaire’s generosity will inspire more gifts from around the country to support and improve public parks.
You can watch video of the gift announcement here.
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