Billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson and the Paulson Family Foundation are donating $100 million to New York City’s Central Park, the New York Times reported.
It’s the largest gift ever to a public park, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
“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 the donations today, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. “I thought to myself, ‘Central Park is a paradise unlike anywhere else in the world.’ ”
Paulson and his foundation are giving the money to the Central Park Conservancy, a nonprofit group that operates the park for the city and raises more than 80 percent of the park’s $45.8 million annual budget, the New York Times reported.
Half of Paulson’s donation will be spent on renovating and maintaining facilities in the 843-acre park, including the Merchant’s Gate entrance at the park’s southwest corner, as well as funding programs for families and young people, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. The other half will be used to enlarge the park’s endowment, currently $144 million.
Former city parks commissioner Adrian Benepe said the donation would help Central Park survive being a popular destination for residents and tourists alike, the New York Times reported. “It gets harder and harder to raise operating money,” Benepe said, according to the New York Times. “The park has 40 million visitors a year, and it’s taking a toll on the landscape.”
According to the New York Times:
The donation is the latest, and biggest, in a year in which the city’s parks emerged as major beneficiaries of philanthropy, joining more traditional recipients like museums, hospitals and universities.
Other New York parks that received multimillion donations this year, according to the New York Times: the High Line, a park built on elevated train tracks on the west side of the city, and Brooklyn Bridge Park, which received $40 million from an amateur track cyclist for the construction of a velodrome.
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