Forever Green campaign aims to restore and preserve Central Park

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Central Park Conservancy, which funds all the maintenance and development in the park, is kicking off a Forever Green campaign.

It's not just about picking up litter either. We went out for a row to tour some of the plans taking shape to return the park to its historic design.

Rowing on the open lake in Central Park back in the 1930's as not much different than it is now.

But over the years there have been ups and downs for the nostalgic pastime.

"When I started in the park in 1985 there were about 12 million visitors in the park and now there are 42 million," said Doug Blonsky, who leads the Central Park Conservancy efforts to go Forever Green, even as the park is one of the most visited spots in the world.

Their job is to keep it clean and restore traditions like the boat landings.

"There's actually gonna be another one started in the next week that's up there, we're doing perfect historic exact replications of the originals that were built back in the 1860s," said Blonsky.

Blonsky explains projects that have to do with beauty are actually protection for the park's value.

"It all goes back to the idea of sustainability, to make sure the park doesn't go back to what it was in the early '80s and late '70's," said Blonsky. "The transformation of the park has been incredible. If we took this ride 35 years ago, all these boats would be covered with graffiti, the rocks would be covered with graffiti. None of these boat landings would be here. It's a whole different world."

Forever Green is not just about the environmental factor. It's also about money - the annual cost of maintaining the park is $64 million.

"The park is funded by people who live around the park. 75 percent of our funds come from people who love the park and use it," said Blonsky.

The Forever Green goal is to raise $300 million in the next decade, giving anywhere from $10 to $10 million.

You can even start your own funding site to buy a bench in Central Park. The concept with Forever Green is if you build it: "Keep the park beautiful, clean and green for the next generation," said Blonsky.
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