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Governor's Press Release
2002 Parks and Preservation Award
Date: 06-06-2002

June 6, 2002

Announces Nearly $1 Million in Grant Money for New York City Parks

Governor George E. Pataki today honored Bette Midler with the 2002 Parks and Preservation Award, which recognizes an individual, family or organization that has demonstrated outstanding commitment and generosity to New York's parks and historic sites.

The Governor also announced that the New York Restoration Project would receive two grants -- a $400,000 Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act award toward construction of a boathouse to be included in a new park along the Harlem River and a $350,000 Environmental Protection Fund award to help acquire 49 community gardens throughout the city. Additionally, Fort Washington Park is receiving a $200,000 Bond Act Greenway grant for the revitalization of the Fort's waterfront with the rebuilding of a portion of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Trail.

"Bette Midler's tireless efforts to protect urban green space have dramatically enhanced the cityscape for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike," Governor Pataki said. "Through her efforts, Bette has fostered investment and successful partnerships within the community to open up and beautify precious parklands and waterfronts. Under her stewardship, the New York Restoration Project has made tremendous strides in preserving valuable public spaces that improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers and she is much deserving of this award."

Bette Midler said, "As a New Yorker, I'm so proud to see our parks become ever cleaner, safer and more beautiful. I thank Governor Pataki and Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro for their solidarity with the issues of parks preservation and their generous support of the work of The New York Restoration Project. Working together, in public/private partnership, we New Yorkers can make this State a model for the innovative and effective preservation of public parks and gardens."

This year's award recognizes the exceptional leadership and generous support that Ms. Midler has shown as founder of the New York Restoration Project, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing and maintaining parklands, gardens and public spaces in New York City. It was presented at a ceremony in Fort Washington Park, near the Little Red Lighthouse, along the Hudson River. The gala picnic dinner benefitted the New York Restoration Project and its various initiatives throughout the metropolitan area.

Ms. Midler established the New York Restoration Project (NYRP) in 1995. NYRP works through a public/private partnership that helps protect public resources and open spaces. Over the last seven years, the organization has reclaimed 200 acres of parkland throughout the city, removed 75,000 tons of debris, created a new park and floating boathouse on the Harlem River, served thousands of students with environmental education programs, helped protect 114 community gardens, purchased and maintained nearly half the sites and assisted with beautification efforts along the Henry Hudson Parkway.

State Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro said, "Bette Midler has shown herself to be a champion of creating and protecting precious green space for the benefit of New Yorkers. Her steadfast support and passionate advocacy of parks and public spaces has led to significant parkland and waterfront improvements in neighborhoods across the five boroughs. I commend the Governor for honoring her contributions and offer my heartfelt gratitude for the success of her efforts in beautifying this magnificent city."

The Parks and Preservation Award was first presented in 1996. Previous recipients include Frances Reese, Laurence S. Rockefeller, Stanford Lipsey, Virgil Conway and John Cronin, David Rockefeller and Anne Perkins Cabot and Samuel F. Pryor, III.

There are 1,700 parks, playgrounds and recreation facilities across the five boroughs. State Parks operates seven waterfront State parks in the city and New York City Parks manages more than 28,000 acres.

City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said, "Northern Manhattan's parks are some of the most special parks in the entire city. The dedicated crews from the New York Restoration Project are helping to ensure that these parks will remain safe and beautiful places for neighbors and all New Yorkers to enjoy."

The Governor has more than doubled the number of State parks in New York City over the last seven years, working to preserve natural resources and open up access to waterfronts in the five boroughs, creating Hudson River Park in Manhattan, Brooklyn Bridge Park and East River State Park in Brooklyn, and Gantry Plaza State Park in Queens as well as adding acreage at Bayswater State Park and other park properties in the city.

Since 1995, New York City has received nearly $15 million in Bond Act, Environmental Protection Fund and Land & Water Conservation Fund grants for the funding of 88 projects.