Central Park is in the process of getting a fleet of electric carts for workers picking up trash, sparing the lungs of park-goers from the gas exhaust of the current fleet.
The park was once bestrewn with litter and dotted with trash barrels, emptied by workers in full-size garbage trucks, as the New York Times reports. Since the 1990s, as the paper outlines, the park's private conservancy has overhauled how it handles trash, creating 49 garbage zones, each with a manager, reducing the trashcan presence, and having workers on carts pick up smaller bags and move them to one of eight centralized stations to be picked up.
Still, some who frequented the park found the putt-putt carts objectionable, and fortunately for the conservancy, some of them were rich.
Regular park cyclist and famed graphic designer Arnold Saks, 85, told the paper, "A couple of years ago, I started getting a little annoyed with the smelly and noisy gasoline carts." For the electric carts, he said, "We promised $1 million in the beginning when we came up with the concept. When the conservancy carefully priced the program’s cost, they discovered the $1.94 million actual cost and they then said they would need an additional donor to get the project built and into operation." Saks, "decided I wouldn't live long enough," and donated the balance.
The upgrade-in-progress will will replace 86 gas carts with electric ones and bring a charging station to a maintenance yard at 79th Street. Thirty-four electric carts are already in operation, and the remainder are supposed to be hitting the paths this month, a conservancy spokesman told Gothamist.
Most New York parks don't benefit from the largesse of a privately funded conservancy like Central Park's. During his mayoral campaign, Bill de Blasio pledged to force such private park stewards to put money towards sprucing up neglected parks in poor neighborhoods. He got pushback on the idea, declined to endorse a proposed state law aiming to accomplish it, and has yet to formally propose such a mechanism. He has encouraged conservancies to voluntarily donate to the cause.
Still, the Parks Department is trying to make its fleet more environmentally friendly. Nearly three-quarters of the agency's 2,228-vehicle fleet runs on some form of alternative fuel, including biodiesel, compressed natural gas, and partial or full electric power, according to the Parks website. More than 500 of those run on hybrid or full electric power, the site says.