Letter to the Editor - August 30, 2018
CAN CHARLESTON AFFORD 'CENTRAL PARK' ON THE WANDO?
Central Park costs $58 million dollars per year to maintain, according to a USA Today article published in 2014.
The funds to care for the park are primarily given by New Yorkers and corporations through donations to the Central Park Conservancy, which funds 75 percent of the $58 million annual budget to keep the park beautiful. (By comparison, the 2018 budget for the entire Charleston Parks Department is about $18 million).
In addition, the Conservancy over the years has spent nearly $62 million in restoring the park’s landscapes. Imagine the cost to landscape a spoils area to park-like standards from scratch. Not to mention the sewer and water, roads and parking.
Central Park’s annual budget for horticulture alone is more than $4.5 million (Source: Central Park Conservancy). Few cities have the budget and manpower to dedicate to a single park of this magnitude.
The public and private funding of Central Park supports a small army of maintenance personnel. In 2014, the following personnel are dedicated to maintenance throughout the park (Source: Central Park Conservancy):
* A two-person crew removes graffiti.
* A two-person crew maintains and restores 51 fountains, monuments and sculptures.
* A three-person crew cares for 26,000 trees, pruning approximately 1,200 trees per year.
* A five-person turf care crew irrigates, fertilizes, rakes leaves and mows 250 acres of lawn.
* A two-person crew monitors four major water bodies within the park.
*A three-person crew maintains 5.3 miles of benches and repairs 2.4 miles of benches each year.
* Three full-time and 11 part-time employees clean and maintain the park’s six-mile perimeter.
* A two-person stormwater team cleans more than 800 catch basins, snakes lines and maintains hundreds of miles of drainage pipe.
* A two-person crew inspects and maintains 21 playgrounds.
The NYPD also has a separate police precinct to patrol the area and roust the gang bangers and homeless people who camp or hide out in the nearly 850 acres after a 1 a.m. closing time.
Central Park on the Wando doesn’t seem to make financial sense to me. Addressing drainage and flood control issues might be a tad more pressing?
(Editor’s Note: In his letter above, Ken Schaub is referencing a Central Park-style amenity first proposed in 2006 by then Governor Mark Sanford for the southern tip of Daniel Island along the Wando River. Sanford, who now represents the state’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House, recently re-pitched his idea to convert a portion of the land owned by the State Ports Authority on the island into a conservation-minded, 400-acre “Tri-County Waterfront Park.”)