NEW YORK CITY — Adrian Benepe announced his resignation as the city's long-time Parks Commissioner Monday.
Benepe, who has held the position for more than a decade, will be moving to the San Francisco-based Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit dedicated to conservation, officials announced.
“Adrian Benepe has done extraordinary work as Parks Commissioner leading transformative changes in every corner of New York City, and I couldn’t be prouder that he is going to lead the Trust for Public Land’s new initiative to replicate our work in cities across the country,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who made the announcement at a press conference in the Bronx, where the pair broke ground on $15 million in improvements to Soundview Park.
Benepe's departure marks the latest in what is expected to be a growing wave of resignations by top Bloomberg officials as the administration winds down its third term.
While his departure was not immediately expected, sources said they weren't surprised by Benepe's decision to leave, given his decades working for the department and the city.
Benepe, who began his career cleaning parks and locker rooms at the age of 16 and later became one of the first Urban Park Rangers, is set to begin his new job in September, where "he will be charged with replicating many of our City’s most successful initiatives on a national scale," the mayor's office said.
He will be replaced be Veronica White, who is currently the executive director of the Center for Economic Opportunity, which is charged with designing and testing new ways to fight poverty.
“I’m thrilled to pick up where Commissioner Benepe has left off and will endeavor to fulfill Mayor Bloomberg’s vision to make New York City greener and greater through its parks,” White said in a statement.
White will be replaced by Kristin Morse, who has held several positions at the center.
Benepe has been credited with leading a major expansion of the city's parks, with over 730 acres added over the past ten and a half years.
The department, however, has also faced criticism for relying too heavily on private partnerships, and investing large sums of money in some programs while adequately funding others, such as tree maintenance, creating a deadly situation of rotten trees on the verge falling, critics charge.
The Trust for Public Land is the city's lead partner in its efforts to transform underused schoolyards into public parks.