Prospect Park Alliance
The designers of Prospect Park, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, could not have foreseen 130 years ago the dense, unrelenting urban environment that is Brooklyn at the end of the 20th century. Their creation has become "Brooklyn's Backyard" — 526 acres of extremely varied contours, plant life, and uses whose beauty and sheer availability have nurtured generations of families. Like other New York City green spaces, the Park was allowed to deteriorate for a number of years, becoming unsafe and poorly maintained. The people of Brooklyn mobilized to counter that trend in the late 70's, however, setting in motion the appointment in 1980 of the first Park Administrator, the founding in 1987 of the nonprofit Prospect Park Alliance, and the physical renewal of the Park's buildings and environs.

With ten years of accomplishment behind it, the Alliance sought out WolfBrown consultants to help it determine, through a strategic planning process, how it could maintain the momentum of early efforts and draw more of the community into future initiatives. While urban parks are increasingly recognized for the role they play in the "built environment," their access to public funds, in particular, is uncertain. The Alliance was therefore especially concerned about shoring up traditional sources of support and identifying and engaging new, broader bases for that support.

To assist the Alliance's board and staff in getting underway, WolfBrown prepared a discussion paper for use in a retreat that would forge a planning framework. Based on extensive interviews with over 100 people, including board members, staff, funders, and knowledgeable individuals in the field, the paper laid out the issues the Alliance would need to address, put forth options for action, and offered research on other models of private-public support collaborations in parks.

The comprehensiveness of this document and the clear focus it provided enabled Alliance board and staff to move quickly in determining the core principles that will guide them in the next decade. Working closely with a board/staff Planning Committee, the consultants went on to draft the plan itself, based on those principles, which has been enthusiastically adopted by the board and embraced by the staff. The final planning document includes an implementation timeline and budget. The Prospect Park Alliance has begun the work, which has also already proven itself as a positive tool with current and prospective PPA funders. When complete, the plan will include a timeline for, and projected costs of, implementation, and it will offer guidance on how to achieve the projected strategies.

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