Sunday, February 20, 2011

Central Park Director and Other New York City Park Execs See Pay Jump By Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein -

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Maybe money grows on trees in Central Park.

Douglas Blonsky, the head of the Central Park Conservancy, got a 20 percent raise, bringing his salary to $433,940, according to the nonprofit's just-released tax filings for 2009-10.

Several other directors also raked in the green.

  • Debbie Landau, the head of the Madison Square Park Conservancy, got a $15,000 raise in 2009, plus a bonus of $20,000, bringing her salary to $200,000 during a year in which the conservancy's revenue declined by $246,715.
  • Aimee Boden, the head of the Randalls Island Sports Foundation, got a 6 percent hike from $166,274 to $176,200 -- including a $15,000 bonus -- in 2009. The city pays $126,609 of her salary and the nonprofit pays the rest.

The directors of some groups earn more than Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, whose salary is $205,180.* Bryant Park Corp. Director Daniel Biederman's salary for the year ending June 30, 2008, was $220,027, up from $210,374 a year earlier. He also earned $220,027 as head of the 34th Street Partnership.

"Blonsky oversees 843 acres. Our parks commissioner oversees 29,000 acres. It doesn't make sense," said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, a watchdog group.
The bulk of Blonsky's raise of $73,766 came from a $69,400 payment for accumulated vacation time, said Kari Wethington, a spokeswoman for the conservancy.

The Madison Square Conservancy refused to comment on Landau's raise. The group also employed Landau's sister, Maggi, with Landau paying her $125,000, plus a $12,500 bonus in 2009. She has since left.

The city Parks Department in 2009 began paying the bulk of Boden's salary for running Randalls Island, the location of Icahn Stadium and dozens of athletic fields. The Parks Department said it upped her salary to be more in line with her work.

A spokesman for Bryant Park Corp. and the 34th Street Partnership, a Business Improvement District, said the boards of both groups believe Biederman's "salary is justified given the renaissance that both districts have undergone."