Tuesday, November 17, 2009, New York, N.Y - Today, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, together with Central Park Conservancy President Douglas Blonsky and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe announced a $1 million donation from Chase to the Conservancy to restore and replant areas of Central Park that were devastated by an unusually severe storm on August 18, 2009. The Mayor recognized the efforts of several Conservancy workers who worked tirelessly after the storm to secure and remove damaged trees and reopen the very damaged northern third of Central Park. Also on hand was Thomas L. Kempner, Jr., Chairman of the Central Park Conservancy's Board of Trustees.
At the Great Hill - one of the areas most damaged by the August storm - Mayor Bloomberg, Mr. Dimon, Mr. Blonsky and Commissioner Benepe planted a 12 foot-tall sapling to kick-off the restoration process, funded largely by Chase's donation. Thirty local students from Thurgood Marshall Academy and the Young Women's Leadership School of East Harlem took part, and planted flagged stakes in spots on the Hill where trees were lost.
"The August thunderstorm ripped through the city, causing some of the most extensive damage to Central Park in modern memory," said Mayor Bloomberg. "During the three weeks that followed the storm, Central Park Conservancy and Parks Department staff and volunteers worked around the clock to clear the debris. Their dedicated work and this generous gift from Chase will allow us to complete almost all of the post-storm restoration projects that we still have left to do in Central Park."
"New York City is the heart of our operations, and Central Park is the heart of New York," said JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon. "JPMorgan Chase has been a steadfast supporter of the Park for decades. There was no question; we knew we needed to move quickly to restore a place that is such an integral part of New Yorkers' lives."
"The Park is more than 843 acres of historic landscapes, trees and water bodies - it's a part of the fabric of this city and our lives," said Doug Blonsky, Conservancy President. "When thousands of Park friends saw the storm's destruction, they were moved to help. So was Chase, a generous longtime supporter of the Park. With Chase's help, we will create new landscapes that generations of Park patrons will cherish as much as the ones we lost."
"In the space of half an hour on the night of August 18, a freak blast of wind devastated thousands of trees in New York City, knocking down over 500 in Central Park alone. For a while, the north end of Central Park looked like a logging camp," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "Thanks to the hard work of the Central Park Conservancy, the road to restoration is well underway but much needs to be done to replant the damaged areas while taking this opportunity to increase plant diversity, encourage wildlife and improve the park's vistas. The City is especially grateful to J.P. Morgan Chase for their extraordinarily generous donation toward this effort."
The severe storm that tore through parts of Manhattan the evening of August 18, 2009 destroyed more than 500 trees in Central Park -some of them older than the Park itself. One thousand more trees were damaged, and landscapes were devastated. Especially in the 275-acre northern end of the Park, downed trees and limbs knocked over light poles, tore through fences and destabilized soil. Conservancy crews swung into action immediately, assessing the damage and beginning the arduous process of carefully cutting down, stacking and chipping damaged trees. In the first three weeks after the storm, the round-the-clock efforts of 26 tree crews dealt with a majority of the damage. A staggering 90 metric tons of wood chips were processed in that time.
Chase's $1 million contribution, the largest of any single donor giving to the restoration process, will restore lost landscapes and plant new trees throughout the Park, especially in the areas of the Great Hill and the Ravine, two areas most profoundly affected by the storm. The bank has a rich history of supporting Central Park and activities in the park, dating back to the first Corporate Challenge race held at the Park in 1977, and began its support for the Central Park Conservancy within the first year of the organization's formation. Today, Chase supports public cultural, educational, and environmental programs in the Park such as the Harlem Meer Performance Festival, the Urban Horticulture & Ecology Training Program, Camp Central Park and the Catch & Release Fishing Program.
Chase, through JPMorgan Chase and its Foundation, has given over $100 million in financial support to non-profit organizations every year in the last five years. In New York City, the bank has been a strong philanthropic supporter of affordable housing, foreclosure prevention and financial education efforts, in addition to significant investments in kindergarten through high school public education.
Nina Habib Spencer, CP Conservancy, 646-734-6347,firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Zuccarelli, Chase, 212-270-7433, email@example.com
Vickie Karp, Parks & Recreation, 212-360-1311, firstname.lastname@example.org