Central Park boss to visit Birkenhead

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Birkenhead Park's boathouse

Birkenhead Park’s boathouse

The manager of New York’s Central Park, one of the most famous in the world, will this week visit Birkenhead.

Douglas Blonsky, who is the chief executive of New York’s Central Park, will be given a guided tour of Birkenhead Park and then later give a keynote speech at the first regional conference on North West Parks hosted jointly by the Liverpool and Wirral Parks Friends Forums.

This event has been designed for members of Friends Groups throughout the region and will focus on the challenges and opportunities facing local parks in the current time of austerity.

It is also hoped that the visit will help to cement the historic links between Birkenhead Park and Central Park, New York, and serve as a basis for developing a series of exchange programmes for the Rangers, for interns and young people.

Around 80 people volunteer to ensure that Birkenhead Park stays properly maintained.

Birkenhead Park, which is trying to obtain World Hertiage Site status, was the first public park to open in Britain in 1847, with the original purpose of the park being specifically for the ‘Recreation of the Inhabitants’.

Central Park in New York, which was opened ten years later, shares many of the principles that were employed when landscaping its Birkenhead inspiration.

Professor Robert Lee, Chairman of the Friends of Birkenhead Park group,  is sure that the park has a bright future, telling JMU Journalism: “Despite the pressures on local authorities from Central Government to impose unprecedented cuts, there is a clear commitment to enhance the profile of Birkenhead Park.

“Since 2007, the Friends of Birkenhead Park have raised almost £1m from external sources, including a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the development of a community involvement and heritage education project.

“We hope the visit will help to cement the historic links between Birkenhead Park and Central Park, New York and serve as a basis for developing a series of exchange programmes for the Rangers, for interns and young people.

“We hope to learn a great deal from the achievements of the Central Park Conservancy.”

About Joe Lanigan-Smith, JMU Journalism