Isn't it funny how we always think getting more money will make our lives better? Sometimes it does, of course, but there are always strings attached.
Today's New York Times article by Timothy Williams -- "In Manhattan Park's Rebirth, Unease at Corporate Presence" -- describes how people living near Bryant Park are getting a little annoyed with the corporate-sponsored events going on in the park seemingly all of the time. When the park went from being publicly-funded to being managed by the private Bryant Park Restoration Corporation, the park improved immensely. It was truly revitalized and is now a very popular spot. But that revitalization has come about partially because of the user fees collected by corporations now holding commercial events in the park. And quite a bunch of events it is:
"In the past few months, Bryant Park, behind the New York Public Library, has played host to Fashion Week, sponsored by Olympus; summer movies underwritten by HBO; a concert series put on by ABC; and a book fair supported by The New York Times. Much of the eight-acre park is currently occupied by a privately operated holiday market and by an ice-skating rink sponsored by Citi."
Last week, Community Board 5, which represents the Byrant Park area, sent a letter to the NYC Parks Department criticizing the number of events being held as well as the lack of inclusion of neighborhood members in the decision-making process. It seems that " ... a major concern has come with the [park's] transformation: that the park is operated in such a businesslike fashion that it barely seems like a public space anymore."
Interesting. I'm sure area residents have been mighty grateful for the revitalization, as are all New Yorkers. I wonder, though, what consideration these corporations give to the surrounding area in terms of trying to work closely with groups like Community Board 5. Having worked on sponsored events many times, I can attest that you spend so much time making sure you get tons of mileage from what you've paid for through signage, PR, attendance and more that you sometimes forget about anyone else's concerns. Should there be a limit to the number of events held throughout the year, or a limit to the numer of days an event is held, or a limit to the amount of space taken up by an event? Or is this the price of having a nice park?